It has been just under a month since Township Manager Helene Schlegel resigned and in that time the Mayor and Council have been reviewing the resumes of close to 40 applicants to replace her.
Last week at the second of what figures to be several special meetings Mayor Bill Gotto said the operations of the township has gone smoothly following Schlegel’s resignation and that the council was determined to conduct a thorough search for the next manager.
The pool of candidates has included former managers and business administrators as well as people from the private sector police officers and people from academia. Mayor Gotto called it “a wide spectrum of candidates.”
Councilman Bob Walsh, who along with former Mayor Joe DiBella was thanked for his work in Schlegel’s resignation letter said finding her successor will not be an easy task. Since being elected to the council Walsh said he has gone through this process twice and the third time does not look to be any easier. “It’s a pretty strenuous process,” he said. “It’s a tough fit. It’s a large town, it’s a very diverse town, it’s a big budget. If I have five criteria it’s hard to find candidates that meet all five so I try to grade them on a one to five basis and see where they come up.”
From the applications he has seen Gotto said he is encouraged by the quality of people looking to work for the township. “I think Howell is a very desirable town to work in,” he said. “People we are receiving resumes from, some of them are talking about big changes in their lives that they want to make if they get the job here. It’s definitely a draw to be manager of the town.”
Walsh said that during Schlegel’s tenure the township faced a variety of challenges including a serious recession that forced furloughs of employees, a snowstorm that dumped close to two feet of snow across the area, Hurricanes Sandy and Irene as well as other flooding problems. “Helene was at the helm during a lot of difficult times,” he said. “They weren’t brought on by Howell Township, they were brought on by Mother Nature and Trenton. Her stewardship during that time was very much appreciated.”
Walsh, the former mayor who was selected to fill the seat when Mayor Gotto was elected to succeed him is set to face Democratic challenger Cochise Doucette in a process that figures to extend well past Election Day. “The search for me is to find the most qualified person to run this town and it’s not an easy thing,” Walsh said.
Another factor the council is considering is the fact that township CFO and Interim Manager Jeffrey Filiatreault is scheduled to retire at the end of January. Mayor Gotto called his retirement date a “self imposed timeline,” for the council but added that it could go longer depending on how the process proceeds.
The next council meeting is scheduled to be held Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They are also scheduled to hold another special meeting at 5:30 on Thursday night. The special meeting will be held in executive session as the council will meet with more candidates and determine who they will interview at the next session.