The search for a new city manager continues in South Portland, where the City Council is scheduled to interview a total of nine semifinalists on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Cape Elizabeth, the Town Council could be close to naming a new town manager after a closed-door session that was set to follow Monday’s regular council meeting.

The Cape Elizabeth council chose two finalists from 38 applicants interested in replacing Town Manager Mike McGovern, who retired at the end of December after nearly four decades on the job. Ephrem Paraschak, town manager of Naples, and Matthew Sturgis, tax assessor for Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, were chosen from six semifinalists.

Both candidates met with town department heads last Tuesday and attended an informal community gathering that evening at the Thomas Memorial Library, then were interviewed by the council for a second time last Wednesday. The council had announced plans to name a new town manager this week, but expectations were less firm Monday afternoon.

“The process is continuing,” said Don Gerrish of Eaton Peabody Consulting Group, the firm assisting with the search.

McGovern’s annual salary is $123,000 after working for the town for 38 years.

In South Portland, the City Council received 33 applications in its second attempt to find a replacement for Jim Gailey, who left the job in July to become assistant manager of Cumberland County. Gailey was paid $121,000 per year, plus a monthly vehicle allowance.

The council re-advertised the position after it offered the job to one of two finalists in November. Edward Collins of Lehi, Utah, and formerly of Maine, initially accepted the job, then backed out before signing his contract, city officials said.

In seeking a second round of candidates, the council decided to drop the requirement that the city manager live in South Portland, following Cape Elizabeth’s lead. City officials hoped to draw a wider pool of qualified candidates in southern Maine – the first ad brought 23 candidates, including two from Maine – thinking that some potential applicants might not want to sell their homes and possibly uproot their families, especially in a tight housing market.

Posted on a variety of state, regional and national websites, the new ad said living in South Portland was “desirable but not mandatory.” The change apparently worked.

The new ad drew more applicants – 10 more than the first ad – and they included 10 candidates from Maine, said Gerrish, who is serving as interim city manager of South Portland while his firm assists in the search for Gailey’s replacement.

Gerrish wouldn’t say how many of the nine semifinalists are from Maine.

As with the first round of candidates, the council is expected to choose two finalists who will meet with city department heads and attend an informal community gathering during the week of Jan. 22, Gerrish said.

The council also would interview each finalist a second time before possibly naming a new city manager by early February. Gerrish is expected to serve as interim city manager until the permanent city manager arrives.


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