By Cary Shuman
Town Council President Thomas Reilly will recommend to the council at its meeting Tuesday night that James McKenna be appointed as the new town manager of Winthrop.
Reilly’s recommendation follows an extensive search process in which more than 40 candidates applied for the position. The town manager selection committee of Peter Finn, Larry Powers, Paul Leavy, Carol Lederman, and Marie Turner, working in coordination with the Collins Center at UMass-Boston, presented three candidates – James McKenna, Andrew Maylor, and John Moak – to Reilly for consideration as finalists.
The nine councilors interviewed those three finalists on May 13, and Reilly made his decision this week.
McKenna is a resident of Essex and a practicing attorney. He is a former chief administrative officer for the city of Gloucester, working for the mayor’s office.
“Mr. McKenna is very excited about coming to Winthrop and becoming the new town manager,” said Reilly, who expects the council to approve his nomination of McKenna. “We had three extremely good candidates, but I think from my observation and that of the council – they were very impressed by his interview.”
Reilly said town officials, including Town Counsel Robert Noonan, will begin negotiations for an employment contract with McKenna. The salary will be in the range of $125,000.
“We’ll have a contract similar to the one for our previous town manager [Rick White],” said Reilly.
Reilly was asked what qualities in McKenna were key factors in his selection.
“I liked the background and experience he has and the interest he showed in the position,” said Reilly. “He came to the interviews with a great deal of preparation. He learned as much as he could about the town and the situations we’re in. The idea that he worked in a community [Gloucester] on the coast was helpful. His management experience plus his own background in law will be assets in his role as town manager.”
Each member of the council will vote on McKenna’s appointment during Tuesday night’s meeting. It is expected that some councilors will discuss the appointment prior to the vote.
McKenna will succeed Interim Town Manager Larry Holmes in the position. Holmes took over the position on an interim basis following Town Manager Rick White’s departure to become the town manager in Dennis.