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Deerfield town administrator candidate Bissonnette withdraws

SOUTH DEERFIELD — One of the town administrator candidates has withdrawn from consideration.

In his letter to the search committee, Michael Bissonnette, the former four-term mayor of Chicopee, said while the Search Committee did an outstanding job and he was intrigued by the possibilities in Deerfield, “The selectboard is uncertain over the skill set they’re looking for.”

Bissonnette is now seeking positions in town governments in the Worcester and Boston areas.

“There’s too much confusion among the board in what direction they want to go,” Bissonnette said. “I’d hope with the Department of Revenue review, they would have come to some resolution before going through this process. In the long run, it’s better they sort themselves out now.”

Bissonnette was one of three candidates interviewed in May for the $60,000 to $75,000 job. Andrew Golas, who is the executive assistant for the town of Palmer, and George R. Zimmerman, the former 10-year elected city treasurer in Northampton, also interviewed for the job. The search committee recommended the three finalists.

Both Golas and Zimmerman said they’d still consider the job if contacted.

“It’s a good position and a good community,” Zimmerman said.

The town has been without a permanent town administrator since last June, when Bernie Kubiak retired.

For much of the year, the selectmen have been debating what role the town administrator should have and whether it entails stronger or weaker powers. In November, the town had a report by the state Department of Revenue that advised a stronger town administrator.

Two weeks after interviewing the three candidates, the selectmen suspended the search process for the town administrator, stating that the finalists were a bad fit for the town.

Instead, the selectmen have asked Interim Town Administrator Kayce Warren to give a report of what the town needs for the administrator office and how it could be better organized.

Another proposal made was to interview Warren for the job. She has been serving as interim town administrator for five months, doing both her assistant job and the administrator tasks. Warren had submitted a resume during the search, but was ranked fourth by the search committee.

Bissonnette said he was “a little disturbed” to find out through the press that the board had misgivings and suspended the process.

“I think at this point, two of the selectmen acted professionally. One acted unprofessionally and I found it insulting,” Bissonnette added.

He declined to say which selectboard member acted unprofessionally.

While the selectmen have stalled on their recommended candidates, Joanne Carney, chairwoman of the Town Administrator Search Committee, said “we feel (the selection) is the prerogative of the Board of Selectmen.”

“We did our job as a search committee,” Carney said. “We thought we did a great job. We put forward three good candidates.”

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:

kmckiernan@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261 ext. 268

On Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK

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