By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM, N.H. — The town has hired Keene’s assistant city attorney as its first assistant town manager and community affairs director.
Leon Goodwin III starts work Tuesday and will oversee several departments, Town Manager Keith Hickey announced yesterday.
Goodwin, 31, will take over many of the responsibilities held by former Community Development Director William Scott., who left in June to serve as the deputy community development director in Amesbury.
When Scott announced he was leaving Salem, Hickey sought approval from selectmen in May to hire a replacement and reorganize town departments. Selectmen voted, 4-1, with Selectman Stephen Campbell opposing the move because of the cost to fill the position.
Goodwin will supervise the Planning, Zoning, Health, Inspections, Recreation, Community Development and Human Services departments, Hickey said.
Goodwin was chosen from among approximately 40 applicants and, like Scott, has extensive experience dealing with zoning, planning and code enforcement issues, Hickey said. He will earn $94,000 in Salem after making $76,000 in Keene.
“He’s going to do a great job here,” Hickey said. “I think he’s going to be a really good fit in Salem.”
The Fitzwilliam resident had served as assistant city attorney since December 2007 and previously served as a law clerk for nearly three years at a Dedham, Mass., law firm. He also taught briefly at River Valley Community College in Keene.
Goodwin received a bachelor’s degree from Clark University in 2004 and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 2007.
He said he’s looking forward to starting his new job and is searching for a home in the area.
“I’m very excited to come over there,” he said. “There are a million opportunities in Salem, from the redevelopment of Rockingham Park to revitalization of the downtown area.”
Hickey also praised Goodwin for his intellect, problem-solving skills and engaging personality, as did Keene officials.
Keene City Manager John MacLean and City Attorney Thomas Mullins said Goodwin was a valued member of their staff who they hated to lose. They both predicted he would have no trouble making the transition from assistant city attorney to assistant town manager.
“Leon’s a great guy and he has a wonderful personality,” Mullins said. “He has one of the quickest I ever met as an attorney. He is going to be difficult to replace.”
He’s an amazing guy,” MacLean said. “He’s the type of talented young person we want in public management today.”
Selectmen, including Michael Lyons and Chairman Everett McBride Jr., said they were looking forward to meeting Goodwin during their meeting Monday night and that the reorganization would be beneficial.
“That will free up the town manager to do more planning and that kind of thing,” Selectman Michael Lyons said.
He said Salem really needed an assistant town manager to fill in when Hickey was absent.
“You really need a designated No. 2,” he said. “Now, he can step and run the town seamlessly. I think that’s going to be a big help.”
Campbell said he was also looking forward to working with Goodwin even though he didn’t support the position because of rising personnel costs. Scott earned $92,000 in Salem.