OAKLAND — Town Manager Gary Bowman was under a lot of stress this week when he went to Wednesday night’s Town Council meeting and unexpectedly told councilors he was going to resign.

“I had a weak moment and I’m embarrassed about that weak moment,” Bowman said Friday, when he reversed his decision and decided to stay on in the post.

“I don’t typically do that kind of stuff. I had a night before where I didn’t get any sleep,” he said. “I came in to work. Everything was just working against me, and I decided I was going to give my 45-day notice.”

Bowman, who lives in Fairfield and has worked as Oakland’s town manager since 2014, said he went home, shared his decision with his wife, and she wasn’t happy about it. He went to bed, came to work the next day, and when he started to talk with staff, they were all upset to see him go.

“I talked with the chair of the council,” he said. “I said, ‘You know something, I kind of had an epiphany overnight and I want to reconsider that.’ I talked with a couple of other council members and they didn’t accept it anyway, so it was kind of a non-issue.”

Bowman said his decision to resign was split-second, though he did talk over the summer with his wife, Annette, about possibly moving on because of the stresses of the job. Councilors briefly discussed his decision Wednesday night, but no action was taken.

“I am flesh and bones just like you are,” Bowman said. “I’m under an incredible pile of stress both personally and this job is certainly a person-eater. I had a situation I’m not going to talk about that tipped me over the edge, and I have some slight health issues.”

In addition, Bowman said he has been concerned about his daughter, Alexis, who left Tuesday for medical school in Grenada.

“That was part of the equation,” he said. “She went to Punta Cana last year and she was held up at gunpoint. So that came back to me. She was accepted at three different medical schools and she chose Grenada. So that’s been on my mind.”

Town Council Chairman Mike Perkins said he was relieved Bowman wasn’t going through with his decision.

“I can tell you he is the best town manager Oakland has ever seen,” Perkins said. “He’s hands down the best town manager I’ve seen since I’ve lived here.”

Sitting in his office Friday afternoon, Bowman said he’s been getting similar affirmations and emails of support from residents. He’s grateful, but also apologetic.

“It was a reactive, foolish move I’m not impressed with,” he said. “I love the town of Oakland. I love my job, and really I hate to have this printed because I don’t want people to think ill of me.”

Bowman was hired in 2014 after working as a police officer in Oakland for 15 years. Before that he ran a grocery store, and before that he worked in a lumber yard in Vermont.

He said he’s been going non-stop since he first took the job – building a new police department that opened in 2016, starting a summer music series and working on downtown beautification. Currently, the town is in the midst of planning for a new fire station.

He said the job has taken a toll on him physically, but the stress is something most town managers have to deal with on a regular basis.

“It’s nice that people are being so kind to me, but I can tell you right now, (Waterville City Manager) Mike Roy is my hero,” Bowman said. “For that guy to go through what he had to go through (with the mayoral recall), it was a hard situation. I sent him an email at the time and said I feel so bad. It’s a tough job.”

Bowman said he wants to assure residents he isn’t going anywhere, although he needs a vacation and is planning one for two weeks next month.

“My goal is to stay here until I retire,” he said. “What I have to do is lighten my work load a little bit.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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