The final three town manager candidates were interviewed in a public meeting of the Winthrop City Council on Monday evening. While all three have different backgrounds, they bring a unique blend of experience and education to the table.
Michael Lombardo is currently employed as the town manager in Hamilton and has held the position since 2010. Having spent two decades in both small and large local government, Lombardo has seen the spectrum of government services from hands-on to high-end. As Hamilton’s town manager, he has worked closely with the school department, and while his previous budget experience involves a much larger school system, he believes in the importance of collaboration amongst departments regardless of the size of the town or the school district.
“I had a great working relationship with the superintendent,” said Lombardo, who met monthly with the school committee to discuss high level issues and town projections.
Prior to his current role, Lombardo was the city manager for Iowa City, serving a diverse population of 67,000. He spent three years working for the City of Augusta, Maine as the Assistant City Manager for Finance and Administration, as well as four years as the County Administrator for the County of Allegan, Michigan.
If selected as town manager, Lombardo will implement an open-door policy and schedule regular meetings with town departments.
“As town manager, my responsibility would be to understand the vision of the town and shepherd the path forward,” said Lombardo. “I’ll use my skills and experience to build a consensus and will make sure we are running a tight ship and have the right people in management.”
Lombardo holds a masters of public administration and a bachelor of arts in economics, from the University of Albany, New York.
The second candidate is originally from Durham, New Hampshire, Austin Faison brings years of experience from the city of Boston. He is currently employed as the assistant town manager for the town of Brookline and has spent three years working for the City of Somerville as the Deputy Director of the Traffic and Parking Department. He was employed as a senior analyst for the Somerville mayor and holds a master of public administration from Northeastern University and a bachelor of arts in political science from Bates College.
Faison’s experience as the assistant town manager of Brookline includes collaboration with the school department and budget management. He played a major role in a Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) award winning financial plan balancing over $270 million in revenue and expenses.
“I feel strongly that the town and schools should work together,” said Fasion, who believes in both an open-door policy and communicating with the residents. “I want to make a community great for the people who live there so they continue to live there and thrive.”
Faison expressed his passion for the town and the extreme potential it has for development.
“There is a boom happening not in just Boston but in the entire metropolitan region and Winthrop is too close to everything else that is happening to not see success,” he said. “You are in a great position to prosper over the next five to 10 years and all it takes is a couple of new projects to flourish.”
While Faison would like to see development in Winthrop, he also believes in the importance of maintaining the character and traditions of the town.
“I’m ready for a job like this, I have innovative ideas and I believe it’s a team effort,” he said. “I understand how a municipality works, how a budget works.”
Faison pointed out the fact that he is well aware that he is younger than the other candidates, but he has the passion, drive and experience to take on the role.
The third candidate, Tim Gordon, is not new to Winthrop, as he spent 2013 to 2015 employed as the town’s chief financial officer under former Town Manager James McKenna, where he was responsible for all financial operations including budgeting, procurement, payroll, the treasurer, town accountant, school business office, and retirement board.
He is currently employed as the town administrator for the Town of Holbrook where he oversees the annual budget, public safety and public works. He worked as a consulting manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers for several years prior to taking on the role of the Associate Director for Risk and Compliance at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
In addition to having a certificate in accounting, Gordon holds a master of science degree in public affairs from UMass Boston and a bachelor of arts degree in history from Framingham State University.
Having spent 32 years in the United States Air Force, Gordon has taken his military background and applied it to all aspects of life and he believes in leading by example and setting the tone at the top level.
While working as the town administrator in Holbrook, Gordon gained experience overseeing the development of a 19-unit condo building, which involved rezoning the entire town.
“I think Winthrop has tremendous potential,” said Gordon. “The proximity to Boston and the coastline is a huge asset. Development downtown and on the coastline to maximize the town, should be in the future plans. I think you have to be realistic too.”
Winthrop has been searching for a permanent full-time Town Manager for a year after McKenna decided not to renew his contract. Police Chief Terry Delehanty came in as interim Town Manager and turned down a full-time opportunity. Since then David Cressman was hired as the part-time Town Manager and he has no intention of making the position full-time. Z
Council President Ron Vecchia said a decision will be made within the next week or two.