The public will have its first chance to meet the three Truro town manager candidates, who are profiled below, at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4, in a virtual meeting. Call-in details will be made available on the town website (www.truro-ma.gov). Send the candidates questions at [email protected]. The select board will interview the candidates on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 5 p.m. All three candidates came via Community Paradigm Associates of Plymouth, the search firm that last year led Provincetown to hire Town Manager Robin Craver, who lasted six months in the job.
‘It’s All Communication’ Says Up-Cape Candidate
By K.C. Myers
If he is hired as Truro’s town manager, Sean O’Brien will have his first job outside of county government since 1986. He started as a summer inspection officer for the Barnstable County Dept. of Health and Environment — the department he now manages.
“I’m honored Truro is considering me,” said O’Brien, 55, of Marstons Mills.
Though he has never applied for a town manager job before, he said his experience running the county health dept. for four years has prepared him. His department’s budget is $4 million and he oversees 45 employees in the summer and 32 in the winter, O’Brien said.
“I’ve got a lot of experience working with people in groups who don’t normally work together, and I’ve got the ability to build coalitions,” he said.
In 2002, he formed the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee, to help in natural disasters like hurricanes. This required the collaboration of fire, police, town, and nonprofit staff.
This year, he has led the response to Covid-19 by setting up test and surge locations with Cape Cod Healthcare and establishing a communication plan.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in public health, the Springfield native began his career inspecting pools, septic systems, restaurants, and motels.
He said Truro’s number-one issue is affordable housing.
“But when you talk about affordable housing you need to think about broadband and economic development,” he said.
O’Brien was a founding board member and treasurer of OpenCape, a nonprofit that worked to develop internet connectivity. This remains an issue for Truro particularly, with Comcast refusing to provide internet access on many roads while enjoying a monopoly on broadband that keeps other potential vendors away.
O’Brien was not insulated from politics at the county level. Recently the county assembly of delegates passed a resolution calling for the reopening of businesses despite the pandemic.
This directly contradicted O’Brien’s department, which has strongly advised caution in returning to normal activity.
“We just continued to do our job,” O’Brien said, “We all know our mission.”
“In government,” he said, it’s all, “making sure that communication is always open.”
Finance is Focus on Colorado City Manager Resume
By Devin Sean Martin
With 26 years of public service experience, 15 of them in New England, Truro town manager candidate Paul Fetherston hopes to convince interviewers of his financial and community development savvy.
Fetherston, 54, is currently the assistant city manager of Greeley, Colo., a position he has held since May. It is unclear why he is looking to leave that position so soon. Fetherston declined to be interviewed by the Independent.
“My record of experience and proven accomplishment, combined with my educational background and personal qualities such as dedication, energy and strong work ethic place me in the position to be a valued and effective leader of the Town of Truro team,” he wrote in his cover letter to the Truro Select Board.
During his three months in Greeley, he has managed a $387 million budget for a population of over 105,000, according to his resume.
Fetherston’s career has taken him through town and city government positions not only in Colorado but also in Illinois, North Carolina, and Connecticut.
Many of his roles have been in finance, including his current position in Greeley, a city challenged by economic growth, according to his cover letter.
Before Greeley, Fetherston served as assistant administrator of Lake County, Illinois, with a population of about 700,000 people and a $503 million budget. He was in that role from June 2017 through April 2019.
From 2014 to 2017, he was the assistant city manager of Asheville, N.C., with a population of about 84,000.
Asheville’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, attracting over 3 million tourists annually.
Fetherston was town manager of Newington, Conn. from 2002 to 2006.
In his cover letter, Fetherston described Newington as “a traditional New England community,” with a population of 29,000 and a budget of $80 million.
According to Fetherston’s resume, he graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a degree in political science in before getting a law degree at Western New England University School of law in Springfield.
A Texas City Manager Who’s Passionate about Local Gov’t
By Sabina Lum
For town manager candidate Robert J. Wood, Truro represents a welcome change from his current residence in Austin, Texas.
Wood, 49, an experienced city manager, has a master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. His undergraduate degree in economics is from the same university.
He was city manager of Flatonia, Texas (pop. 1,383), about halfway between San Antonio and Austin, for eight years. Wood then served as administrator of West Lake Hills, an Austin suburb, for 12 years. He was the interim city manager of nearby Bastrop (pop. 7,218) between March and June of this year.
“I feel like I can work with all different kinds of people, from all different backgrounds,” said Wood. He believes his experiences working in “both low-
to middle-income cities but also extremely affluent cities” have made him able to adapt to managing in any town.
Truro caught Wood’s eye after his time as the interim manager in Bastrop came to a close. “I did some research on the town, and it just seemed like a really good place for me.”
Wood believes a major concern for the town will be monitoring the relationship between finances and the coronavirus. “Especially when a lot of the economic activity is based off of people visiting the town.”
Wood said he is open to listening. “For a town like Truro that I haven’t worked in and don’t know really well,” he said, “the priorities are a decision the town council will make and talk to me about.”
Wood says local government is his passion. “It’s the level of government where you’re very close to the people you serve,” he said.