Don Gerrish has served as Windham’s interim town manager for nearly a year. File photo

WINDHAM — After three rounds of applications failed to yield a permanent town manager, the town must decide whether or when it will open the search process again.

Leon Goodwin, the town’s finalist for the position, informed the Town Council Sept. 12 that he had accepted a town manager position in Dedham, Massachusetts.

“It makes you feel good that you had a good candidate, but you don’t feel good that you lost him,” said Interim Town Manager Don Gerrish.

Windham has been searching for a new town manager since October 2018 when then-Town Manager Tony Plante left with a $175,000 severance package amid turmoil on the council about his job performance. Plante was replaced by Gerrish, and the Town Council had originally expected to appoint a permanent manager in January.

In the first search, no suitable candidate was found. In the second, finalist John Mauro turned down the council’s offer in July in favor of a city manager position in Washington state.

Gerrish said he believes that Goodwin’s decision was financial, as Dedham offered him $195,000 while Windham could only pay approximately $125,000.

Despite the financial constraints of being a smaller town, Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield believes that “the town and the council need to get into a better position so that we attract more candidates so that our finalists aren’t often just one person.”

He would like to have multiple candidates reach the finalist position.

Councilor Donna Chapman agreed, and said that other councilors “need to be more open-minded so instead of just looking at one (finalist) we look at three.”

Five of the seven councilors must vote in favor of a candidate to reach the finalist stage.

“I think we’ve had some great candidate pools,” Chapman said, adding that she would like to see the town advertise again for the position. “Why not? There’s plenty who want to come here.”

Maxfield, who is running for re-election in November, would like to wait until after the Nov. 5 election to advertise for the position again.

Windham needs to make a change in representation on the council and have a more professional and positive council,” he said.

Both Maxfield and Chapman, who is also running for re-election, spoke highly of Gerrish, who is not planning to become the permanent town manager.

“I think he’s just the best thing we’ve had in our community,” Chapman said. “If we could clone him, it would be good.”

Gerrish is on vacation until October, but the council will meet with him when he returns to discuss future plans.

“There’s no plan right now,” Gerrish said, although he anticipated “I’ll be here for a little while.”

Council Vice Chairwoman Rebecca Cummings did not respond to requests for comment.

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