BRATTLEBORO — After an approximately five-month search, a Colorado man was offered the job of town manager.
On Tuesday, the town announced the Select Board hired John R. Potter. He’s hailed in the announcement for his “extensive administrative experience in the management of public lands, facilities and services,” and collaboration on “numerous, complex, cross-disciplinary and intergovernmental projects throughout his career.”
Potter will start the job on Dec. 30. He’s anticipated to attend the next regular Select Board meeting on Dec. 6.
“We are confident that John Potter has an enthusiasm for good governance and for Brattleboro that he will bring to his new role,” Select Board Chairman Ian Goodnow said. “We look forward to working with John for the benefit of the people of Brattleboro.”
Potter currently serves as deputy director of the Open Space and Mountain Parks Department in Boulder, Colo., since 2016. He oversees 50 staff members and manages a budget of between $4 million and $7 million annually, according to the news release.
Previously, Potter worked as senior policy adviser in the Oregon Department of State Lands and as the assistant director, he was responsible for managing Oregon’s State Park system. During his tenure with the state of Oregon, Potter led a team of 725 staff members and oversaw an annual budget of $60 million, according to the news release.
Earlier in his career, Potter was the director of land management for New York City’s Bureau of Water Supply; the land superintendent for the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission; and a manager for Land’s Sake Inc. in Weston, Massachusetts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College and a master’s degree in forest management from Yale University and is a native of eastern Massachusetts.
Potter said he really appreciates the board offering him the opportunity and he looks forward to earning the town’s trust.
“My wife Marie Elena and I are excited to move back to New England and become active members of the Brattleboro community,” he said in the news release. “Brattleboro’s reputation as a thoughtful and progressive community drew us to this special place, and it will be great to work together with the many active community leaders and partners in town.”
In September, the town received 26 applications for the position and began its first round of interviews. The board was tasked with finding a successor for Yoshi Manale, who resigned in May and left in June after less than six months into the job.
Brattleboro town manager candidates come forwardManale was hired to replace Town Manager Peter Elwell, who retired at the end of 2021. In a statement at the time of Manale’s resignation, Manale explained how the town manager position is intended to be the administrative head of all the town departments, offering helpful, detailed information to the members of the Select Board and executing their will for the best of the residents.
“In a small town like Brattleboro, I have quickly discovered that the prominence of this position creates drawbacks for me to fulfill the duties of the job most efficiently. I am not the right fit for this position,” Manale said in part. “I am leaving with a sad heart. After consulting with the Select Board, I am sure that I have made the right decision to move on.”
In September, Manale was hired as city manager in Claremont, N.H. He had received $60,000 in severance pay from Brattleboro.
His early departure from Brattleboro prompted questions from community members about how the town goes about hiring the town manager and supporting the person when initially taking on the position. Some residents were disappointed to hear of his resignation, which was shrouded in some secrecy, since he and the Select Board signed an agreement that prevented them from making disparaging statements about one another. He and the board also faced pushback over a decision to cut ties with Rescue Inc. after contract disputes.
Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland served as interim town manager while the Select Board conducted the two searches since Elwell retired. He hadn’t been interested in being town manager. He previously told the Reformer he appreciates community members encouraging him to apply for the job, but he’s familiar with the role and knows that his talents and interests are better suited to his current position as assistant town manager. He was hired by the town in 2011.
Goodnow thanked Moreland “for his valuable service as interim town manager.”
“We also appreciate his assistance and that of human resources director Sally Nix for their contributions throughout the search process,” Goodnow said. “Our new town manager will find that our town is well prepared to address the opportunities and challenges ahead, with active community involvement and the assistance of our very capable town staff.”
Moreland said he thinks the board made “a wonderful choice” and he wishes Potter well in the new role.
For the two searches, the Select Board worked with Ellis Hankins of Mercer Group Associates. The position was advertised on the Mercer Group Associates website, the town’s website and social media pages, the Vermont League of Cities & Towns website, the Massachusetts Municipal Association website, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities website, the New Hampshire Municipal Association, the New York Conference of Mayors website, the Maine Municipal Association website, the International City Managers Association, govtjobs.com, indeed.com and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.
According to the news release, Potter will be responsible for a General Fund budget of $20 million, 140 full-time employees, and enterprise funds for water and sewer, and downtown parking. He also will work with the 140-member Representative Town Meeting on final approval of the town budget, borrowing for large-scale capital projects and other major policy decisions.