Thetford names its 4th town manager since start of 2020

  • Bryan Gazda (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2021 9:51:48 PM
Modified: 1/21/2021 9:53:46 PM

THETFORD — A former municipal official in upstate New York has been tapped as the permanent town manager in Thetford following some turnover in the position last year.

Bryan Gazda, 61, of Elma, N.Y., will start work Feb. 1, replacing Interim Town Manager Tom Yennerell, who has been with Thetford since October. According to his three-year contract, Gazda will receive an $82,500 salary, $2,000 in moving expenses, and will have his mileage reimbursed by the town.

Gazda, a New Jersey native who has worked for the past 20 years in local government in New York state, said he’s excited to work in a municipality where the public has a say about what happens in their town.

“It’s a different form of government, where residents are more directly involved,” Gazda said in a phone interview Thursday, adding that’s not always the case in towns around New York state. “That’s what I see in Vermont — the purest form of collaborative government.”

Gazda’s experience in municipal government began in 2000 when he became a village administrator in Canastota, N.Y. Since then, he has held several positions as village administrator, village clerk and treasurer in towns near Buffalo, N.Y.

Most recently, he was director of public works in Lockport, N.Y., for four months but he was let go in early 2019 when a new mayor was elected who “didn’t feel the position was warranted,” he said.

Still, Gazda said the decision gave him a chance to return to school and earn his master’s degree in public administration at Syracuse University, which he completed in 2020.

Before he started his career in local government, Gazda was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, where he worked on telecommunications and computer operations, according to a news release from Thetford officials Thursday.

Town officials, with the help of the New Hampshire-based Municipal Resources Inc. consulting firm, looked at 30 candidates for the permanent town manager position and picked Gazda as the “top candidate” according to the release.

Gazda completed multiple interviews with the Selectboard before he was offered the position.

“Throughout the recruiting process ... (Gazda) demonstrated an exceptional understanding of financial forecasting and long-term road maintenance, arguably the two most important skills a town manager in Thetford will need,” Selectboard Chairman Nick Clark wrote in an email Thursday.

He added that he appreciates Gazda’s eagerness to work in a smaller community rather than a large one.

Gazda, who recently spent time touring Thetford and poring over the town plan, said he’s excited to take on a position that’s relatively new for the town.

Thetford’s first town manager, Serena Bemis-Goodall, was hired in August 2019 but left in early 2020 after disagreements with the Selectboard.

She was replaced by Interim Town Manager Guy Scaife, who held the position until mid-October when he left for personal reasons, and Yennerell, a former town manager in Springfield, took over.

“I find it really alluring,” Gazda said of the new position, adding that he’s excited to take the job while Thetford continues its transition to a new form of government. “It’s going to be something that’s really fun to do. That’s one of my goals: to be the transition person and set the tone for later town managers.”

Clark wrote in an email that the core role of the town manager is to care about the community that they serve, something he said Gazda will do well.

“I understand that they’re very excited to be moving to Vermont,” Clark said of Gazda and his family.

Gazda said he’s house hunting now and expects his wife and their two young children to follow him to Vermont within the next couple of months.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




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