Published in the November 2, 2016 edition
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — Call it DPW Director search 2.0.
The selectmen have once again offered their unanimous endorsement of a new candidate to fill the position of Director of Public Works.
John M. Tomasz, a professional engineer from Newburyport with over 34 years of experience in the field, received the whole-hearted endorsement of Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford and Selectmen Chris Barrett and Dick Dalton last Wednesday night during a meeting called to discuss this latest development in filling the vacancy.
Following their unanimous endorsement, the selectmen instructed Town Administrator Jim Boudreau to enter contract negotiations with Tomasz for the post and to return to the board with the terms of that agreement for their final vote on his appointment.
Each selectman interviewed Tomasz individually after they had been informed by Boudreau that the prior candidate whom they had unanimously endorsed earlier last month, Anthony Furnari, informed the T.A. he had chosen to remain in his present post with the city of Newburyport as its Director of Public Services.
If a contract agreement is reached with Tomasz he would replace DPW Director Andrew Lafferty who resigned from the post Sept. 9 after serving two years here. Given the length of time the position has been vacant and the number of candidates they’ve interviewed to date, the board is keeping the position open until it is filled.
Tomasz has served as the Director of Public Services in the city of Salem since 2013. He also served as DPW Director for the towns of Hamilton (2008-2013) and Rockport (1998-2008). Prior to these municipal posts, Tomasz worked in the private sector at Montgomery Watson/Haven & Emerson (1990-98), Cullinan Engineering (1988-89) and Public Service Electric & Gas Co. of New Jersey (1981-88).
Barrett commented that throughout this process they have interviewed 10-12 candidates and he has been “very impressed with the candidates we’ve had.”
Barrett said Tomasz had not applied when the post was first advertised but he believes he would have topped the initial finalist list. “John is a strong candidate,” Barrett said. “It benefits the community a whole lot if we move forward and we appoint him.”
Barrett said Tomasz has the traits he looks for in a top candidate, such as “strong budgetary experience,” which he has gained at his positions in Salem, Hamilton and Rockport. “He really took the lead on the budget,” Barrett said, but he added the trait that elevated Tomasz above all the other candidates he has interviewed to date has been “his proven track record of being aggressive with constituent services.”
Tomasz has established a protocol of logging every constituent request for service on a spreadsheet and tracking it from the initial inquiry upon being received by the DPW to its final disposition. Information tracked includes who made the request, where the problem is located, what is being requested to be addressed, the action taken to solve the problem, who was assigned to address the problem, the date the task was completed, and any ancillary comments about the task.
Barrett said Tomasz also expressed to him that he believes it is “important to communicate with the Recreation Commission and the many community groups in town.”
Dalton and Crawford both agreed with Barrett’s assessment.
Dalton said Tomasz’s constituent services experience “differentiates him from the other candidates that I’ve interviewed. I was very impressed with some of the examples his gave of how he tracks various issues in town and giving them priority so that he can make sure they’re responded to appropriately and on a timely basis.”
Dalton added that he also spoke to Tomasz about the importance of him “becoming a part of this town. I will compliment our police chief and our fire chief as managers. They’re around town and they’re involved in things, and I would want the DPW Director to put himself in the same position to have the constant communication with the Rec Commission” and the various youth and town leagues.
“He should be visible on a Saturday morning, to take a ride by and talk to parents and show some interest. And I think that was part of the frustration of this past springtime that we really weren’t showing that type of commitment to making sure the problems with the fields were addressed,” Dalton said.
“I would echo that,” Crawford said. “His experience, along with his education, are outstanding, and I believe if we did have him in the first round he would have been at the top of the list. He was 10 years in the town of Rockport, six years in the town of Hamilton and he spent four years with the city of Salem. He’s got extensive engineering background. He has been well-liked in the prior communities.”
Crawford said that he spoke with Tomasz’s prior colleagues and employers who had said he was missed in those communities after he left.
Barrett added, “The other piece that he really stood high above everybody is his work in capital facilities. He can really work on CFAC if he was able to obtain this position. He is excited about what Lynnfield is looking to do” on projects ranging from a new library to the fields and others.
“He understands we are a community that is willing to put our money where we see it is important. He is very interested in being a part of that,” Barrett said.
Dalton noted that Tomasz meets all the educational requirements and certifications required of the position as well as having “18 years’ experience as a DPW Director in three different municipalities and that to me was very important to have someone who had the experience as a DPW Director as opposed to some of the candidates we had that weren’t actively in the role of a DPW Director.”
“Everything we went over had a lot to do with communications, the management of the department, workforce issues, and he just seemed to be a real pro. I have every confidence he could do a very good job and, like Chris, I would recommend we hire him,” Dalton said.
Crawford agreed. “It’s a good opportunity for this town to get a top notch DPW Director that is going to be more hands-on,” Crawford said. “I think our other department heads will love the way he tracks everything, along with the Finance Committee. The townspeople will be very impressed with this person. We hope that he will come.”