SEABROOK — If the contract details can be hammered out successfully, former Methuen Mayor William Manzi III will be Seabrook’s next town manager.
Selectmen announced their decision to go with Manzi at yesterday’s meeting, after listing the other candidates who made the list of three finalists: Stephan J. Gunty, currently of Indiana and former town manager in Old Orchard Beach, Maine; and Leslie Boswak, a Hooksett resident who is currently town administrator in Deerfield, N.H.
Some 31 candidates applied, and the nine who were interviewed presented superior qualifications, said Selectman Aboul Khan. He said that made the decision so difficult that at one time he wished he could hire “five town managers.” But Manzi rose to the top with all three selectmen.
“We all thought he was the best candidate,” said Selectman Ray Smith. “It’s one of the few things we all agreed on.”
Manzi, 57, has a lengthy background in government, having served as a member of Methuen’s City Council for 12 years and its mayor for six after that, before he stepped down due to term limits.
“In Methuen, the mayor has a two-year term of office and a person can serve a maximum of three, two-year terms in office,” Manzi said yesterday. “I served from 2006 through 2011.”
After leaving the mayor’s office, Manzi, a Democrat, made a run for the Massachusetts Senate seat from his district, after it was vacated by former state Sen. Steve Baddour in 2012. Manzi lost the Democratic primary to current state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport.
Moving to Methuen after being born in Lawrence, Manzi is a Central Catholic High School graduate who early on showed an interest in government. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UMass Amherst in 1978, then followed that up with a master’s in business administration from UMass Lowell in 1981.
Prior to taking over as mayor, he was a small businessman, owning a package store, Rostron’s, on Hampshire Street in Methuen. He also worked as health and welfare union auditor for a North Andover accounting firm.
Some of the things that impressed Seabrook selectmen are Manzi’s experience in municipal finance and union negotiations, according to Selectman Ed Hess. Mayor during the lean years of the recent recession, Manzi balanced all the city’s budgets without the need for layoffs, Hess said, and successfully negotiated 30 contracts with the city’s unions.
Since leaving politics, Manzi has worked as a consultant, most recently helping members of Haverhill’s Public Works Department negotiate their union contract with that city.
Manzi has his own political blog, Bill Manzi.com, and does a radio show, “Manzi in the Morning,” every Wednesday for Lowell’s WCAP, 980 AM station.
“I’ll probably give that up because I won’t have the time for it,” Manzi said.
The father of two children, William, 21, and Meaghan, 19, Manzi and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Methuen. However, Seabrook’s Town Charter requires town managers, as well as police and fire chiefs, to live in town.
“The charter gives me a year to move to Seabrook. I think buying a home there is possible.” Manzi said. “I told the selectmen I’d be happy to do that. Seabrook is a great place, really beautiful.”
With relatives and friends who live in Seabrook, especially in the beach district, Manzi said he’s familiar with the town. He said he’s looking forward to playing his new role, helping the town prosper.
“It’s not often that someone is chomping at the bit to go to work, but I’m really chomping at the bit to get started in Seabrook,” Manzi said. “I think it’s a good fit. I’m really excited.”