WEBSTER – Twenty-four people have applied for the vacant town administrator position, Thomas Ralph Jr., chairman of the nine-member screening committee, said in an interview Tuesday.

Thursday was the deadline to apply for the job. On Friday, Mr. Ralph and fellow screening committee members Michael Finamore and Town Clerk Robert Craver met to go through the applications and they made copies of resumes and letters of interest for all search committee members.

The committee will meet July 13 “to discuss candidates and get a feel for who we’re going to interview, who’s not qualified, and move on from there,” Mr. Ralph said.

The search committee first met April 4. The job was advertised through the Massachusetts Municipal Association publication, the Beacon, and the International City/County Management Association.

For a salary range of $125,000 to $150,000, the town sought applicants with “demonstrated knowledge of administration, finance and municipal operations” and “strong leadership, management, interpersonal, negotiation, oral, and written communication skills.”

Town bylaws require the search committee to submit a list of three to five people for recommendation to the Board of Selectmen within 150 days of the search committee’s organizational meeting, giving the committee until Sept. 1.

The town seeks to replace John F. McAuliffe, who served six years as town administrator before he resigned on May 29, 2015, to become the administrator in Swansea.

Pamela A. Leduc has been serving as acting town administrator since June 1, 2015.

It is the second attempt at replacing Mr. McAuliffe.

The first search ended with the two people chosen to be interviewed withdrawing, after selectmen and residents expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the candidates during an Oct. 30 meeting.

The first search advertised the job for $125,000 annually, but officials say they hope the enhanced salary range will attract a better pool of applicants.

Ms. Leduc has confirmed that she applied for the permanent job, and she has strong support from Town Hall employees. A letter to selectmen signed by 15 town employees, including department heads, said of Ms. Leduc’s candidacy: “Her years of dedication to the Town of Webster, attention to detail with whatever task is presented before her, and empathetic approach to residents, outside parties, and employees are qualities that make her stand out among all other applicants.”

The employees also credit her for calming “the once turbulent waters within Town Hall with her proactive approach to day-to-day dealings and unexpected circumstances,” and being a willing listener.

The job calls for a bachelor’s degree, and Ms. Leduc, who’s worked in municipal government since age 18, recently earned a bachelor of science in business administration at Worcester State University.

By Brian Lee
Telegram & Gazette Staff