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Four finalists named for Dracut town manager post

Feb 20, 2020 06:41PM ● By Lisa Redmond

Thatcher Kezer, III

DRACUT -- The names of the four finalists for Dracut's next Town Manager job hold top administrative positions in Amesbury, Framingham, Groton and Southbridge, but  at least one finalist brings some baggage with him.
At a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m., the five-member screening committee will present its list of finalists for the Board of Selectmen to review and choose the town's next top administrator.
 The finalists are: former Amesbury Mayor Kenneth Gray, Groton Town Manager Mark Haddad, Framingham Chief Operating Officer and ALSO former Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer III, and Southbridge Town Manager Ronald San Angelo.  
The name missing from the list is acting Town Manager Ann Vandal, who despite filling in as town manager for the second time, did not make the final cut.
Vandal has been acting town manager since James Duggan quit in October under a cloud of controversy over violations of state bidding laws, and criticism from  police and fire department personnel.
Before Duggan was hired by Dracut five years ago, Vandal also stepped in as acting town manager.
Th omission of Vandal's name outraged a number of town staff who signed a petition asking that the selectmen to override the screening committee's recommendations and add Vandal's name as a finalist.
At a recent selectmen's meeting, Vandal said, "I appreciate it (the employee support). It's disappointing (not to be a finalist) but it is what it is.'' She added that the petition shows the support she has among the workers "and that's good enough for me.''
Haddad was the focus of controversy in 2011 when a woman alleged he sent her "inappropriate messages'' online and by phone. A probe by an investigator hired by the selectmen found that Haddad violated the town's policy by sending messages from his town phone and computer, but no laws were violated.
Before working in Groton, Haddad resigned as Cohasset's town manager after two female employees accused Haddad of sexually harassing them. The town's insurance company paid the woman more than $70,000 each to settle the case, according to published reports.
But Haddad, along with the other finalists, bring with them a progressive plan for Dracut and a a list of accomplishments throughout their careers. 
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