I joined my neighbors at Deerfield Town Hall last night to meet the three candidates for town administrator. After meeting each one in person, and then listening to their extensive answers, I’ve created a Zagat-style summary of each man, and some of their mannerisms and quotes. Then I’ll tell you which one, by far and away, is the right person for this job.
Andrew Golas, executive assistant for town of Palmer Appears to be less than half the age of his two rivals…My boss says I’m dedicated….not experienced working with personnel. He’s nervous speaking at first but grew more confident. Helps run Palmer as an executive assistant to the town manager. He’s not a department head, cited a few situations where he had to help on an issue but not in charge. Not a financial expert either, doesn’t do that in his current job. Part time firefighter and has a young family. Nice guy but not sure he’s up for this job.
George Zimmerman, Former Treasurer city of Northampton. Seems nervous, objects to the order of who is answering the first question…um…ah…a few more awkward pauses…wants to do more than just manage the money…wants to broaden his tasks…he used to live in South Deerfield. Not comfortable talking to a large group with spotlight on him. Unfunded mandates…lower receipts…not just inside 128…I’m a little unappreciated…big picture, you have to give others a sense of ownership. Repeat the question? Some monies are drying up…um…lots of growth possible here up 91 with Yankee Candle etc.
Mike Bissonette, Former mayor of Chicopee (four terms) I balanced eight budgets with surpluses each year… I worked with the schoolboard..I have negotiated contracts…new buildings need to go up if we want to expand our tax base…we have to work to bring businesses to Deerfield, to market Deerfield, that’s the task…but he’ll do it according to the selectboard. During his 8 years as mayor, 78% thought he was taking Chicopee in the right direction….72% favorable job approval. I brought more federal and state dollars to Chicopee than any other mayor. Built two bike paths, two high schools, a new library. 90 million in highway construction. Did I mention I’m good at getting fed and state funds? That was bullsh&^% he said to me privately..he swears like a regular guy. Big Red Sox fan.
I hope that it is as clear to the selectboard as it is to me. Mayor Mike Bissonette is a fantastic choice and he blows these other two candidates out of contention. He would be a great asset as long as a headstrong and confident guy like Mike does not get in his own way and if the selectboard doesn’t feel too intimidated by this outsider with a big record of achievement. I think Deerfield will do great things if he is allowed to pursue grants and exciting development projects. He should be our next town manager, if he wants us, we should not let this guy slip away.