KENNEBUNK – The select board has hired an executive search firm to help them find a new town manager.

The four members present at a special select board meeting June 7 voted to engage Strategic Government Resources of Keller, Texas, to help in the search to replace Mike Pardue, who announced Jan. 27 that he intends to retire in mid-November. Pardue has been town manager in Kennebunk since December 2016.

SGR, which was founded by a former municipal manager in 1999, has recruited city and town managers for positions from Connecticut to Kansas, Oklahoma to Colorado, New York to Florida and beyond. The company provides recruitment services for an array of municipal positions.

Kennebunk received three bids in response to its request for proposals – a New Hampshire company called Municipal Resources, Inc., at $14,300: Illinois-based GovHR USA at $23,500, and Strategic Government Resources, at $24,900. A review team composed of select board chair Blake Baldwin, board member Kortney Nedeau, Pardue, Human Resources Director Jeri Sheldon, and Finance Director Joel Downs reviewed the proposals and interviewed the three firms. After the review, interviews, and reference checks, the review recommended Strategic Government Resources.

Nedeau told her fellow board members that she enjoyed the interview with the New Hampshire firm but got the impression that the owner believed the position would be an “easy fill.”

“I really want someone who makes Kennebunk a big deal,” said Nedeau.


When she called to set up an interview with the Illinois-based firm, she found the corporate voice mailbox was full. She said during the interview, the company representatives said, “they’d get back to us,” on several of the nine questions asked.

Nedeau said she was getting a bit nervous because the third candidate, SGR, was in Texas.

“This candidate blew my mind,” she said. “All the recruiters are retired from public service, and they really understand the needs … they were very invested in the conversation.”

Nedeau said Strategic Government Resources pledged to visit Kennebunk twice as they went about their business of recruitment. She noted that when asked about diversity, equity and inclusion, the recruiters said they all come from different walks of life in public service, and had placed the first African American and youngest town manager in one Texas community and a woman in another community where selectmen had originally indicated they weren’t looking for a female candidate.

“Sometimes you just know when a process is good,” said Sheldon. She described the two SGR officials interviewed as “assertive without being aggressive.”

She said the review panel talked to all three firms about the process to solicit staff feedback, engage the community, advertising sources, and information gathering. She noted one of the two representatives of Strategic Government Resources indicated he walks Main streets and talks to business owners as part of his information gathering process.


“I believe they want to come to Maine and help us find the best town manager we can find,” Sheldon said.

Reference checks in Clinton and Windsor, Connecticut, and Briarcliff, New York, turned out well, she said. “They all said, ‘I don’t know how we could have done this on our own.”

She explained that SGR reduced an applicant pool of 40-50 candidates to 10-15, then further, to five.

Baldwin said he went into the selection process with one firm in mind and came out with another. He noted one of the SGR people interviewed, Mark McDaniel, said he had listened to a number of board meetings.

Baldwin said some in the community have wondered why Kennebunk had not pursued a more local recruitment solution, but that the team was looking for a national approach.

“We’re looking for an advocate … not for his or her candidate, but someone they believe is the right candidate for the town of Kennebunk,” said Baldwin.

Board members Baldwin, Nedeau, Sally Carpenter and Lisa Pratt voted in favor. Members Shiloh Schulte, Bill Ward and Frank Paul were absent.

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