Hopkinton, MA
Hopkinton, US
11:06 pm, Monday, July 15, 2024
temperature icon 76°F
Humidity 93 %
Wind Gust: 7 mph


Town Manager finalists shine during Select Board interviews

by | Jul 9, 2024 | Featured: News, News

While the Select Board on Tuesday night unanimously voted to appoint Elaine Lazarus as Hopkinton’s new town manager, members also agreed that the other three candidates were well qualified for the position.

Member Joe Clark suggested that the remaining finalists — Chris Senior, Lance DelPriore and Jason Hoch — potentially be considered for the assistant town manager role. Lazarus, who currently serves as both the interim and assistant town manager, would be vacating that position pending successful contract negotiations.

Select Board members interviewed each of the candidates for 45 minutes using virtually the same questions for each person in the interest of fairness. Topics ranged from economic development strategy to town employee retention and recruitment to bringing new life to the downtown business district.

While the candidates shared similar goals and visions for Hopkinton in their responses, they each displayed different performance styles and unique strengths that they could apply to the position.

Lance DelPriore

DelPriore, the first candidate interviewed, decided to apply for this position because of Hopkinton’s similarity to Sharon and Foxborough, where he has worked. He stressed how his background in civil engineering and public works will translate to the town manager role.

He currently serves as town engineer and assistant director of public works for the town of Foxborough. But DelPriore stressed that his responsibilities were not defined or constrained by his titles. He “filled in in various capacities” in Sharon, including as its health agent and building commission member. This experience helped him earn the trust and respect of his colleagues and engage with the public, he said.

DelPriore described himself as “a problem solver” and “a bit of a nerd.” He has worked on DPW budgets and is fluent in the MUNIS government accounting software system.  He worked on developing the plan for a $14 million PFAS treatment plant and a $17 million DPW expansion plan in Foxborough as well as Sharon’s master plan.

Said DelPriore: “Numbers don’t scare me as an engineer.”

He suggested that town supervisors engage with their staff members, discussing their performance on a quarterly basis and reviewing them annually. This approach would enhance teamwork and what he described as “humble inquiry.”

DelPriore suggested changing the town charter so that the Select Board would not have to interview and vote to approve recommendations for lower-level employees. This would give members more time to work on pressing issues.

He also recommended the creation of a public works commission.

Chris Senior

Senior, an attorney, has served as town manager of Cohasset for the past decade. Members were impressed with his varied experience, as he previously spent 10 years as deputy town supervisor in North Hempstead, New York.

His interview style was energetic and personable, likely because of his previous experience in broadcast journalist in Framingham and as a community newspaper reporter at the start of his career.

Said Senior: “I really learned about local government, what it was all about and how passionate people were.”

Senior stressed his public service experience, noting that he has been involved in capital planning, budgeting and labor negotiations.

One of his goals would be to improve communication and transparency, noting that people lose trust in government when departments operate as silos. He put forward the idea of the town hiring a communications professional.

He said he would love the position because it’s “different every day” due to the interaction with the public and government employees.

When he started in Cohasset, “the town was going through some challenges.” He was able to help town employees with “getting people out of their comfort zones.” Senior pitched in as a volunteer, even filling vending machines and moving bales of hay when needed.

Jason Hoch

Hoch previously served as town manager of Williamstown and as town administrator for Litchfield, New Hampshire. He has lived in Hopkinton for the past three years and currently works for Massachusetts Technology Collaborative as the deputy director of its Innovation Institute.

“I have spent the bulk of my career in local government,” he said, noting he worked in various roles in New Hampshire towns before working in Williamstown.

“I’m intrigued by the opportunities and the challenges to kind of navigate through,” he said. He described the need to grow the town’s tax base without detracting from its character.

Hoch was open about having resigned from his Williamstown position, which was prompted by a scandal in the police department. He described the situation in detail, noting that there were “lessons learned, pro and con” that Hopkinton could relate to after the controversies in the HPD over the past two years.

“There was a personnel issue in the police department with an employee who was usually close to the line of unacceptable behavior,” he explained. When this employee did not earn test scores high enough for a promotion, he and the police chief, who also resigned, became “punching bags.”

Added Hoch: “It was a really long and painful process.”

Another point Hoch made was that there are “tradeoffs” that may come with accepting outside grants and state money, particularly with transportation projects. He did not directly mention the Main Street Corridor Project, but described to a similar situation in Williamstown where state funding influenced the project’s design. A funding request for a bike path ended up with a plan that included “an extremely over-engineered bridge.”

He suggested holding coffee hours at different venues throughout town to connect with different populations. Hoch also focused on “making the downtown more vibrant.”

At the end of the meeting, Select Board chair Brian Herr said he empathized with the three candidates who were competing with Lazarus, an inside candidate with 32 years of experience in Hopkinton town government.

Said Herr: “I think the other candidates did a fabulous job, and I think they’ve got great careers ahead of them.”


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Key Storage 4.14.22