The Select Board meeting meeting started off a couple minutes late last night but nobody could have foreseen what would unfold next. Chair Jackie McCarthy started off the meeting outlining the agenda but before turning it over to public comment, she provided the following statement:
A week ago, I spoke with one of my board colleagues about the four finalists for the town manager position. Later in the week I received a text from another board member who wanted to talk without identifying the subject. We spent a few minutes talking about the town manager position. I violated the open meeting law by doing this. And I let you down, I let myself down and I’m sorry.
So to address this violation, I will recuse myself for the remainder of this process and I’ll do so in just a moment by handing the gavel over to the vice chair to conduct the rest of the meeting. I’ve had a great 2 years working with folks in town, meeting volunteers, getting involved in a lot of the issues here and I can say that our town staff and volunteers are the best of the best but separately from this recusal, and because of circumstance that I won’t go into right now, I feel its best for me and my family to resign from the Select Board. and I’ll do so tomorrow.
This is a really difficult decision for me and I’ll really miss working with town staff and volunteers. Now I know that we have many boards and committees that are less than fully appointed and they do an amazing job at the work that they have and the Select Board will be no different. With that, I turn the gavel to the vice chair. Thanks for listening and hopefully for understanding.
After that, the board took a 5 minute recess. Once reconvened, Vice-Chair Mark Dockser mentioned he was shocked and saddened by the event as did Chris Haley who also didn’t think Jackie did anything deliberate.
The board was then left with 4 members to discuss and vote for a new Town Manager. Mark Dockser spoke first with Matt Coogan and Clancy Main as his top 2 choices. Mark noted he spoke directly to Matt Coogan to get reinforcement of his first choice and his references were stellar.
Karen Herrick spoke next, who also chose Matt Coogan and Clancy Main. Karen noted that Matt Coogan was also her top choice thanks to his strong municipal finance background.
Christopher Haley spoke after, noting that he spoke to staff members, previous Reading town managers as well as a department head 10 minutes beforehand in the parking lot. They all agreed that Matt Kraunelis was their choice and Chris was looking to maintain stability at Town Hall.
Carlo Bacci concluded that he was initially impressed with both Clancy Main and Matt Coogan during the interview processes but after checking in with town staff and other members of the community, Matt Kraunelis would bring stability to Town Hall.
After a back and forth discussion, the board concluded it was best to set another date to finalize their choice as they were deadlocked 2-2. A special meeting was then set for February 13th at 6PM. In terms of filling the vacancy for Jackie McCarthy, that has no impact on the upcoming March 5th election. The Town will need to hold a separate special election. The complete meeting video can be seen below: