Yoshi Manale, the new town manager for Brattleboro, Vt., held a meet-and-greet session at the Brooks Memorial Library on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, to answer questions from people in the community. He will hold another meet-and-greet session on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.

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BRATTLEBORO — Yoshi Manale, the next town manager, is making the rounds and getting to know the community.

His official start date is Jan. 1. He said he’s “really excited” to begin.

For now, Manale said he’ll be shadowing Town Manager Peter Elwell to help with the transition as he learns the priorities of the Select Board and community.

“It will be great to be invited places,” Manale said Monday at a meet-and-greet event at Brooks Memorial Library. “This is my first time here. I don’t know the businesses or the people yet.”

Manale arrived Saturday night and went to Echo Restaurant & Lounge downtown. He said he learned very quickly how everyone seems to know each other in town.

Manale most recently served as chief of staff and deputy mayor for Mayor Reed Gusciora in Trenton, N.J. He’s replacing Elwell, who has served as town manager since 2015 and announced his retirement in April.

Prior to his employment in Trenton, Manale worked in the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services in New York City, as director of operations and budget for Kean University, in Union, N.J., as township administrator in Bloomfield Township, N.J., and in public policy staff positions with the New Jersey Legislature. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University, and a master of public administration degree from New York University.

Before accepting the new job, Manale had been to Brattleboro. He said he has driven through town and visited.

Manale described himself as “a big skier” who purchased a season pass for nearby ski resorts this winter. He said he plans to start playing in a men’s basketball league this weekend.

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Access to outdoor activities and quality of life are what he said sold him on the new job. He’s a fan of sci-fi literature, hip-hop and alternative rock.

“I also grew up with classical,” he said. “I’m half Japanese so I think that’s forced upon me, to learn the Suzuki method.”

In Trenton, Manale served on a team responding to COVID-19. He said he had to look for funding opportunities and ways to get people to understand the need to get tested and vaccinated.

Windham Southeast School District Board member Tim Maciel told Manale he will hear from vocal community members with differing viewpoints at Select Board meetings.

Manale said he would need to look at all the information presented to make informed decisions.

Climate change is a big issue, Manale said. He discussed the potential for creating partnerships with universities “to help us understand our own areas and neighborhoods.”

“They have resources and expertise we don’t have,” he said.

Manale said he has experience resettling refugees from when he worked at Kean University. Brattleboro is preparing to welcome refugees next month.

While Manale hasn’t yet read the community safety report put together last year by two facilitators hired by the town, he said he supports ways of rethinking the role of police. He said police officers are asked to do many different jobs when they should be focused on public safety.

Manale sees opioids as a big issue here. Trenton, he said, has “gangs and unfortunately murder.”

His plan is to live in temporary housing downtown until he finds a place to buy in Brattleboro. He thought he might miss the different offerings in the New York and New Jersey area but noted the local community has a “diversity of food.”

Another meet and greet event with Manale is set for 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the library.