The Old Orchard Beach Town Council continued to move beyond the political discord of recent months by naming a new town manager this week.

And, in another sign of change at Town Hall, the decision was unanimous.

Larry Mead, a former assistant city manager in Portland who is the current town manager of Kennebunkport, will begin his new job Sept. 16, bringing with him “a proven track record of leadership, accomplishment and integrity,” said Town Council Chairman Shawn O’Neill late Tuesday in an announcement of the council’s choice.

Mead returned the praise Wednesday, saying the new direction of the Town Council encouraged him to want to serve the town.

“They want stability in the town, they want good government in the town. Those are things we share,” Mead said.

The council is scheduled to formally confirm Mead’s appointment on Aug. 20.

Mead is the town’s first major hire since six of the seven town councilors were recalled in June after months of political fallout over the firing of Town Manager Mark Pearson.

Pearson, who was the town manager for about a year, is now suing the town.

Mead will be Old Orchard Beach’s fifth town manager since 2003, an unusual rate of turnover that reflects the town’s sometimes rough-and-tumble politics. Mead, however, has a record of staying in positions for longer than his recent predecessors.

He has been with Kennebunkport since 2006, and before that worked for Portland for 25 years, including seven years as assistant manager in Maine’s largest city.

Mead moved to Old Orchard Beach about a year ago and said he now has a personal interest in the town that he didn’t have previously, especially in seeing “good government.”

He said he is “very impressed” by the first steps of the new town councilors and he looks forward to working with them to move into a more stable period in town government.

“They’ve really done the right things in getting started. They’ve set a new tone for the Town Council and for the community,” he said. “I think they’ve made it really clear they’re interested in working through the issues they confront in a proper manner and with appropriate discourse.”

Beyond the opportunity to help bring stability to town government, Mead said, he is looking forward to working for “one in the small group of communities in Maine I think of as a signature community, one that stands out as a dynamic place that people want to visit.”

Mead said his experience in two other signature communities — Portland and Kennebunkport — makes him well-suited to the leadership position in Old Orchard Beach. Town councilors agree.

“His service in Kennebunkport and Portland makes him particularly well qualified for the position in Old Orchard Beach,” O’Neill said in his announcement.

Mead said one of his accomplishments in Kennebunkport was helping to develop a beach use agreement the town entered into with more than 50 property owners at Goose Rocks Beach and an ordinance to ensure future public use of the beach.

Mead said his last day in Kennebunkport will be Sept. 13. Its Board of Selectmen will meet privately Thursday night to discuss hiring his replacement, including whether to appoint an interim town manager.

In Old Orchard Beach, Mead will be paid an annual salary of $105,000. He and interim Town Manager Robert Peabody Jr. were the two finalists for the job.

Town councilors interviewed the finalists – 21 candidates applied – in executive session before Tuesday night’s meeting.

 

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]