EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 19, 2013

Plaistow manager seeks Topsfield position

Fitzgerald a finalist in Topsfield

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — PLAISTOW — Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald continues his hunt for a new job.

He came to Plaistow in 2008. The first inkling residents had that Fitzgerald, 43, might not be a long-term manager was his candidacy for mayor of his hometown of Peabody in 2011.

He lost that race in November 2011, promised selectmen he wouldn’t seek another elective office.

But that apparently didn’t mean he wouldn’t look for another job.

In April, he made it as far as being named one of three finalists for town administrator in Manchester, Mass. He wasn’t offered the job.

Now, Fitzgerald is one of four finalists for the town administrator’s job in Topsfield, Mass.

“Family changes have certainly made me look at some opportunities,” Fitzgerald said yesterday. “But in no way does that indicate that I’m not happy with my position with the town of Plaistow.”

Fitzgerald’s wife gave birth twins in March. They also have a 4-year-old son.

Fitzgerald received a raise and a contract extension from the town at the end of last year. His salary went to $88,000, up from $86,275.

Fitzgerald said residents shouldn’t doubt his commitment.

“Running for office is completely different than this,” he said. “I have made it clear to selectmen that elected office is not on my radar at this point.”

If he remains in Plaistow, Fitzgerald said, selectmen and residents shouldn’t be worried about his commitment to the town.

“I think they can look at my track record,” he said. “I have demonstrated a level of commitment to the community. My intention is focused on business in Plaistow.”

Selectman Daniel Poliquin said he hadn’t heard anything about Fitzgerald applying for the Topsfield job until he read it in The Eagle-Tribune yesterday.

“I don’t know what his reasoning is for wanting to leave,” he said. “Maybe it could be something with his family or it’s just a better opportunity for him. I can’t say much until we talk to him.”

Poliquin said selectmen plan to meet with Fitzgerald in a nonpublic session before their meeting Monday. Fitzgerald is on vacation this week.

Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Gray issued a statement on the announcement yesterday.

“The town can confirm that we are aware that the town manager is a finalist for the position of town administrator for Topsfield,” Gray said. “We have no further comment on the matter as this is a personnel issue.”

But Poliquin said he’s not surprised Fitzgerald would look to go elsewhere.

“The expectancy for someone to last in a town manager position is usually between three and five years,” he said.

Longtime Plaistow resident Roy Jeffrey said he understood why Fitzgerald would pursue a new opportunity.

“If the salary is more somewhere else, I understand,” Jeffrey said. “He’s done some great things for Plaistow. I hope that he doesn’t get the job.”

Topsfield town administrator Virginia Wilder retired at the end of last year. She most recently earned $100,000 per year.

Topsfield selectmen met with Fitzgerald for the first time last night. He said the application process wouldn’t get in the way of his work in Plaistow.

“There’s a lot of meetings and demands of my time in Plaistow and I certainly have been available for those demands,” Fitzgerald said. “(Last night) was my first face-to-face meeting with the town of Topsfield.”

The other finalists include William DiLibero, former town manager in Charlestown, R.I.; Kellie Herbert, assistant town administrator in Belmont, Mass.; and Pamela Nolan, town administrator in Seekonk, Mass.