HOULTON, Maine — Town Councilors met in executive session on Tuesday evening to decide how to move forward one day after the man they hired to be the new town manager opted out of the position.
Town clerk and Interim Town Manager Cathy O’Leary said Thursday that the group has decided to have another meeting on Sept. 4 to further discuss the situation. In the meantime, the group is ready to conduct an additional interview with a candidate it also strongly considered for the position.
On Aug. 13, the council announced that Wade Hanson, a Houlton resident who had spent 10 years working in various positions for the town, would take over as manager. The post was vacated in March with the resignation of Doug Hazlett, who held the position for seven years.
Hanson was hired in September 2001 as manager of the town’s civic center, and in 2002 as the town’s code enforcement officer. He took over as its community development director in July 2007. Hanson resigned from that position in September to serve as the economic development director for the Houlton Band of Maliseets.
He interviewed for the town manager position in the spring. In order for him to be hired, councilors stated an intention to change the town’s nepotism policy, which prevented the hiring of an employee for a supervisory position if they had an immediate family member working in that same department.
Hanson’s mother has worked as town treasurer for several decades. As town manager, Hanson would have been her boss if he had adhered to his Sept. 10 start date.
During Monday’s council meeting, Chairman Paul Cleary read a letter from Hanson stating that he had decided not to take the job after all. Hanson did not state a reason for the move. While councilors also did not elaborate on what was behind Hanson’s decision, several wondered if public opinion about the policy change was part of it.
Even though Hanson rescinded his application, councilors voted unanimously on Monday evening to change the nepotism policy.
O’Leary, who has served an interim manager numerous times in the past, remains at the helm.