Council rejects finalists for manager

  • John Bohenko

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 5/31/2022 9:17:54 PM
Modified: 5/31/2022 9:17:57 PM

CLAREMONT — The City Council agreed earlier this month not to hire any of the finalists who interviewed for the position of city manager, and it is unclear when the search for a permanent manager will begin again, Mayor Dale Girard said.

Girard said the council voted last week to hire former Portsmouth City Manager John P. Bohenko, who retired in 2019, as an interim after agreeing about two weeks prior that none of the four finalists interviewed were the right choice for Claremont.

“At this time, we were unable to find a permanent replacement,” Girard said in an email Tuesday.

The candidates were from an original pool of 12 that responded to the job posting for city manager, Girard said, and were recommended by Municipal Resources Inc., which conducted the search for the city. Girard said the candidates were from “across the country,” but because of privacy, he could not be more specific. He added that he is not sure how quickly they will resume the search.

John MacLean has served as interim since January after the resignation of Ed Morris. Girard said they would have liked MacLean to stay, but he had prior plans for summer travel.

Bohenko’s contract through MRI is similar to that of MacLean. Girard said he will be in city hall two to three days a week and will work up to 30 hours a week at $95 an hour. Bohenko will be available to communicate with city departments even when not in his office, Girard said.    

It is now 5½ years since the city has had a steady presence at the top position in city hall. Following the retirement of Guy Santagate in December 2016, after 15 years as city manager, the council, on a recommendation from a citizen’s search committee, hired Ryan McNutt from Massachusetts. McNutt was fired by the council in early January 2019 in a 7-2 vote.

The firing resolution approved by the council cited McNutt’s failure to provide councilors with advance notice on issues of concern to the public. But in a subsequent interview, McNutt said his firing was solely because he did not tell the council of a decision by the assessing office in the summer of 2018 to reduce the assessment and forgive back taxes on a commercial building on Mulberry Street that had been discussed publicly for a few years. A public uproar over the forgiveness of taxes caught the council off-guard, and McNutt’s relationship with the council never recovered.

After McNutt left, the city hired MacLean as interim before hiring former Weathersfield Town Manager Ed Morris in the summer of 2019. Morris’ relationship with the council appeared strained during his tenure, which ended in January of this year when Morris accepted the job of Enfield town manager. The city council met frequently in non-public sessions during the latter part of Morris’ time as city manager.

Under both McNutt and Morris, the city hired MacLean for the purpose of improving the communication and managerial skills of both city managers.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

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