By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — The town has a new town manager, former GOP gubernatorial candidate Kevin Smith.
Town councilors made it official at a meeting last night, but there was speculation earlier this week that Smith was the one.
It was a long-awaited decision.
Londonderry hasn’t had a permanent town manager since June 2012, when former manager David Caron left the job.
Police Chief William Hart has served as acting town manager since then.
The hiring process took some time.
In February, town councilors narrowed their search and picked their top candidate, but that individual decided to take a different position.
Councilors opted to start at the beginning again and readvertised the job.
Smith, 36, is a 1994 graduate of Londonderry High School and also the University of New Hampshire.
He became very active in state and local politics, and served Londonderry as a state representative from 1996 to 1998.
He ran for governor in 2012, losing in the Republican primary to Ovide Lamontagne.
Human resources manager Donna Pratt said earlier yesterday she would not divulge the town manager’s salary.
Council Chairman John Farrell said there were more than 100 applicants for the job. The top four candidates were interviewed over the last few weeks, he said.
In addition to naming a new manager, councilors also gave interim fire Chief Darren O’Brien the permanent chief’s job.
O’Brien, 47, has served as the department’s interim chief since March, following the retirement of Chief Kevin MacAffrie.
Human Resources Manager Donna Pratt said the fire chief job had not been advertised.
O’Brien’s former battalion chief position will now need to be filled, Pratt said.
“The town appointed Darren O’Brien to the acting position in March 2013,” she said. “The fire chief will seek approval to fill the battalion chief position.”
O’Brien was born and raised in Londonderry. He has served the fire department since he was 19, working his way through up the ranks.
He called MacAffrie his mentor earlier this year and said he was always interested in taking on the official chief job.
Hart said O’Brien has done a great job leading the department.
“He has restored its morale,” Hart said. “This is Londonderry right here.”