By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – After an intensive process over the last several months, the Westborough Board of Selectmen has chosen Kristi Williams as the town’s new Town Manager. Williams served as Assistant Town Manager since 2010 and was named Interim Town Manager after Jim Malloy resigned in October 2018.
The BOS interviewed Williams and the other final candidate, Leon Goodwin, before a full house at Town Hall June 25 prior to deciding to offer Williams the job.
Selectman Chair Ian Johnson noted that the first step in the process had been the formation of an 11- member committee, comprised of various town officials and residents. A total of 31 candidates applied for the position, with five making it to the semi-finalist round. Williams and Goodwin were then chosen for the final round.
During the interviews June 25, each candidate gave a short introduction before answering questions from Johnson and Vice Chair Shelby Marshall, and Selectmen Syed Hashmi and Allen Edinberg. (Selectman Leigh Emery was not present due to illness.) .
Goodwin is currently a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Department of State, serving in Mexico. He has prior experience as a Town Manager in Salem N.H. and as an Assistant City Attorney in Keene, N.H.
After hearing both candidates, the board debated the merits of the two candidates, with all noting that it was a difficult decision as both Goodwin and Williams were highly qualified.
Goodwin’s experience as an actual Town Manager was an asset, they noted, as was his goal-oriented approach to municipal government and land use experience.
“He would also bring a fresh perspective to the town,” Marshall said.
Ultimately the board agreed that although the roles of Assistant Town Manager, Interim Town Manager and permanent Town Manager were different, Williams’ leadership since being named Interim had been impressive. She had earned the trust of department heads, the board said, by valuing their expertise and fostering collaboration.
“It has not just been a caretaker position,” Edinberg said. “It’s been advancing initiatives and making strides. To be in a temporary position for such a short time and earn [the department heads] respect and cooperation is impressive.”
Johnson agreed, noting “The whole time, she talked about ‘we’, the whole team.”
Making a motion to hire Williams, Marshall said “Kristi is a collaborator, she is a leader, she communicates well. I think she is ready to be the leader of Westborough.”
During the first vote, Johnson, Marshall and Edinberg all voted for Johnson, with Hashmi dissenting. But after an audience member called for a second vote to see if there could be an unanimous consensus, as a show of faith for Williams, the board agreed, with all four members voting their approval to offer Williams the job.