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Petition Urges Selectman To Include Vandal In The Pool of Town Manager Finalists

Feb 10, 2020 09:21AM ● By Lisa Redmond

DRACUT - With the Board of Selectmen scheduled to provide an update on the search for a new town manager on Tuesday, a petition signed by nearly two dozen town employees seeks to have Interim Town Manager Ann Vandal added the list of finalists after word circulated that Vandal didn’t make the final cut.

The petition, which was posted on The Dracut Connection’s Facebook page, is addressed the Board of Selectmen chairman and members of the board and states: “We understand that the board will shortly be interviewing and making the decision on who the next town manager will be, but that Ann Vandal has not been selected as a candidate.

While we respect the work of the Screening Committee, who freely volunteered their time for this task, we feel that a respected and responsible staff member who has already demonstrated her ability to do the job, should not have been overlooked. As interim town manager Ann has provided a much needed sense of stability and fiscal prudence and it seems wrong that you, the board, would be denied the opportunity to consider her application.

We recognized that the final decision will be yours alone and are confident that it will be in the best interests of the town, but would respectfully ask that in addition to the other candidates, you also give yourselves the opportunity to consider the application of our interim Town Manager Ann Vandal.’

Employees from Town Clerk Kathy Graham to Community Development Director Elizabeth Ware signed the petition in support of placing Vandal in the pool of finalists.

Vandal, who also serves as assistant town manager and chief financial officer, was appointed as interim town manager in October when former Town Manager James Duggan abruptly resigned under a cloud of criticism surrounding his handling of the town’s procurement procedures.

This is the second time Vandal has stepped in to manage the town. Vandal was named interim town manager in 2013 when then Town Manager Dennis Piendak resigned and Duggan was hired. At that time, Vandal was prohibited from applying  by the Town Charter but the Charter has since been amended allowing Vandal to apply. 

After Duggan’s departure, the board hired the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management to handle the search for candidates. The Center is working with the Town Manager Screening Committee, a five-member committee appointed by the selectmen to recommend Town Manager finalists.

Selectman Chairman Jesse Forcier tapped School Committee member Joseph Wilkie while Selectman Tony Archinski selected Dracut Housing Authority Commissioner Charles Kanavos.

Selectman Alison Hughes appointed Affordable Housing Partnership Committee member attorney Kathy Patenaude, while Selectman Joseph DiRocco tapped John Crowely, a Zoning Board of Appeals member, and Selectman Tami Dristiliaris chose architect and Permanent Building Committee member Phil Thibault.

The selectmen will meet at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the Douglas G. Willett Board of Selectmen’s Chamber in Town Hall. The meeting is scheduled to be broadcast live on Dracut Public Access Television.

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