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Chapdelaine turns down Natick, decides to stay as town manager

Adam W. Chapdelaine, 2020
 Chapdelaine

UPDATED, June 26: Adam W. Chapdelaine has decided to remain as Arlington's town manager, the third time he has bypassed a position elsewhere since he got the top job in 2012.

He declined to go beyond the statement issued via town email after 7 p.m. Thursday, June 24, the manager wrote to residents:

"I wanted to send a message to the Arlington community to inform you of my decision to withdraw from the Natick Town Administrator process and to stay on as Arlington Town Manager.

"The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement about new opportunity and a bittersweet feeling as I considered leaving a position and community that have given me so much personally and professionally over the past decade.

"First and foremost, I am very pleased to stay in Arlington. I am excited about continuing to work with the Select Board, town staff and the community on issues of critical importance. I am honored to be part of a team that is widely viewed as a statewide leader on issues of equity, climate change, community policing and responsible fiscal stewardship of taxpayer dollars. We have collectively done great work for the past decade, but there is always more to do, and I look forward to being part of the continued efforts.

"I would also be remiss if I did not express my gratitude to the Natick Select Board for offering me such an exciting opportunity. However, since the Natick Select Board voted on June 14th to enter negotiations with me to become the next Natick Town Administrator, I have determined that the position may not have been the fit that it appeared to be following my several interviews with the town.

"Nevertheless, I wish the board and the people of Natick the very best going forward.

"Many people in Arlington reached out to me with their support over the past several weeks and this reminded me of all the good work that is still left to do here in Town. I am excited by that work, and I look forward to doing it with all of you.

"I hope that you all have a safe and enjoyable summer and I look forward to the work ahead."

Natick official suprised

The MetroWest Daily News reported June 25 that the Natick Select Board will discuss its next steps during its next scheduled meeting Wednesday, June 30, said Board Chairman Karen Adelman-Foster, who added she was "surprised" by Chapdelaine's withdrawal.

She called Chapdelaine a “superstar” moments before the board voted to pick him for Natick’s top management post, the News reported.

"A bit of surprise at first, but mostly acceptance and huge optimism," Adelman-Foster said in a Friday morning email to the Daily News. "Sometimes this happens, and fit is extremely important. It's an amazing community, and we attracted amazing candidates. At our meeting, board members expressed enthusiasm for more than one of the finalists. We're going to be way more than all right — we're going to be terrific."

7-month search

After a nearly seven-month search, the Natick Select Board on June 14, unanimously voted to hire Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine to become the new town administrator, Natick Patch has reported.

The Select Board had four finalists for the job: Natick Deputy Town Administrator Jamie Errickson, Concord Deputy Town Manager Kate Hodges, Winthrop Town Manager Austin Faison and Chapdelaine.

The Select Board then entered into negotiations with Chapdelaine.

In separate speeches during a special meeting, each Natick Select Board member highlighted the strengths of the four candidates, but several members said Chapdelaine and Errickson were the front-runners.

“I’m very excited, hopefully coming to terms with a new opportunity,” Chapdelaine told the MetroWest Daily News by phone minutes after the board’s vote.

He told YourArlington June 15: ""I'd like to reserve further comment until negotiations with Natick are completed. Likely in the next week or so."

His hopes?

Asked June 14 what he hopes to accomplish in his first 100 days on the job as Natick’s top municipal manager, Chapdelaine said his focus will be on listening and learningthe MetroWest Daily News reported.

“It would be presumptuous to say I have plans and goals before I set foot in an organization," he reportedly said. "I want to learn as much as I can, integrate with the team, and keep the trains running on time."

It was Chapdelaine’s work experience that stood out, according to public comments by board members.

“His depth of experience is unequal among the finalists,” said board Chairwoman Karen Adelman-Foster, adding that Chapdelaine has served in his current job for eight years. “His answers [during the interview process] were calm, and incredibly thoughtful and really inspiring. He’s widely considered a superstar and for good reason.”

All four finalists were interviewed separately by the board last week in open session. The board held informal discussions with each candidate over the weekend.

More than 30 resumes were reviewed by a screening committee appointed by the board. The committee narrowed the pool to 10, then presented four finalists to the board last month.

Former Town Administrator Melissa Malone announced on Nov. 3 that she would step down by the end of 2020 after 2-1/2 years on the job. Errickson stepped in as an interim administrator, and the town later hired Robert Rooney as an interim administrator.

In December, the Select Board assembled a nine-member committee of residents and sitting officials, including Superintendent Anna Nolin, to find a permanent replacement for Malone. The final four candidates were interviewed via video last week, and then again over the weekend in round-table meetings with the Select Board members.

Chapdelaine, 41, is a Dedham resident, and has been Arlington's town manager since 2012. Before that, he served as the city administrator in Fall River.

Background

Natick choice means Chapdelaine will manage a town with a population of 36,229 in 2018 (Arlington had an estimated 45,100) and have a shorter commute to his home in Dedham. He moved from Teel Street in Arlington last year.

In June 2020, he said he moved to Dedham for family reasons. Read his full explanation reported at the time >>

Town officials, including members of the Select Board, who evaluate the manager and approve his employment contracts, have consistently given Chapdelaine solid support and high marks. At the same time, the manager has looked elsewhere twice.

In January 2020, after Chapdelaine applied for a manager position in North Attleborough, a smaller municipality but with a new form of government, he chose to withdraw from the process and stay in Arlington. The decision followed a closed meeting with the Select Board. He told YourArlington: "After talking with the board and hearing from many people across town, it became clear to me that there is more work that I would like to do here in Arlington and that this is a great town to do that work in."

N. Attleborough, Vermont

Nov. 15, 2019, letter to the North Attleborough screening committee, Chapdelaine described his Arlington role "as a position I greatly enjoy and one that I derive a greatly deal of satisfaction from. However, I have been considering the pursuit of new opportunities that would provide me with fresh and different professional challenges."

In 2016, an unnamed Vermont town tried to lure Chapdelaine away from Arlington, but the then-Board of Selectmen fought to keep him, providing a new contract with a $28,000 raise and contract through 2019. The Board of Selectmen agreed Feb. 10, 2016, to pay the manager $200,000 annually starting the next day.

"Under the prior contract, my salary was set to be $171,023 as of Feb. 24, 2016," he wrote in n email Feb. 13, 2016. "Under the terms of the new contract, my salary will be $200,000 as of Feb. 11, 2016. After that, the contract allows for a 2-percent cost-of-living increase each year," through 2019.

Performance praise

In March 2014, Chapdelaine received broad praise for his job performance, as the board approved a three-year contract with a 2-percent raise each year. One selectman said the manager could have sought more. For 2014-15, the 34-year-old got $164,383. Under the agreement, his annual salary was $167,670 in 2015-16; $171,025 in 2016-17 and $174,445 in 2017-18.

In January 2012, Chapdelaine, who had assisted then-Town Manager Brian Sullivan since April 2010, was appointed manager in a 5-0 vote by the then-Board of Selectmen. The 32-year-old began his duties Feb. 24, the day after Sullivan, who had led the town for nine years, retired.


This statement plus background was published Thursday, June 24, 2021, and updated June 26.

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