BRATTLEBORO -- At least one of the top candidates has turned down an offer to be Brattleboro's new town manager and the Selectboard is planning on providing an update on the drawn-out process at next week's meeting.
Spoon Agave, a member of the Town Manager Search Citizen Committee, said the candidate was at the top of everyone's list. But the candidate took a job closer to home, and while Agave was not aware if a second candidate was offered the position, he confirmed that the top candidate had withdrawn his name from consideration.
"Everyone was thrilled about this candidate," Agave said. "He had a young family and the move was a factor. This is no reflection on the Selectboard, or on the work they did. This is a live and learn process."
It has been almost one year since Barbara Sondag resigned as Brattleboro's town manager. Sondag shocked the Selectboard when she announced on June 18, 2013 that she had accepted a job in Olivette, Mo., and she walked out of the municipal building for the final time as town manager on July 25.
Since then the Selectboard has held two different searches, most recently interviewing two of its top candidates.
Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein refused to offer any details about the most recent search, which yielded 43 applications and at least two serious candidates who had sit-down interviews with the board, with members of the Town Manager Search Citizen Committee and with town employees.
Gartenstein only said that the board was going to give a report at the Selectboard meeting on July 15.
"We have a board meeting next Tuesday and the board will give an update on the town manager search," Gartenstein said. "There is no announcement right now and there is nothing else to say."
According to Agave, the Town Manager Search Citizen Committee did not recommend that the Selectboard make an offer to the second candidate, who also held a sit-down interview with the board and with town employees.
Agave said the committee only spoke with the top two candidates.
"We were so excited about the top candidate. He was really someone who would have been able to move this town forward," Agave said. "We did not feel like the second person was right for the job. We thought there was an unusually wide gap between the two."
The Brattleboro Selectboard opened its first town manager search soon after Sondag resigned and the town received 62 applications.
The Selectboard also held interviews with some of those candidates but in the end an agreement could not be reached.
A second search was started, with the board increasing its starting salary offer from a range of $75,000 to $90,000, to $80,000 to $95,000.
The town received 43 application during the second round, and a higher proportion of woman candidates compared to the first round.
The town worked with Vermont League of Cities and Towns on both rounds.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.