MILLINOCKET, Maine – Former Maine Senate President Charles Pray will be interim town manager if he accepts an offer the town has made, Town Council Chairman John Davis said Friday.
A Millinocket resident and one of three finalists to replace departing Town Manager Eugene Conlogue, Pray was a state senator from 1975 to 1992 and served as Senate president from 1984 to 1992.
“He fit all the qualifications we wanted, but all of them did. It was a tough choice. They were great candidates,” Davis said Friday. “He had the qualities we were looking but the others did, too.”
Pray did not immediately return a telephone message left Friday.
Councilors on Thursday voted 4-2 to accept Conlogue’s resignation, 7-0 to extend his contract to his Oct. 5 departure date, and 6-0 to hire the Maine Municipal Association for $4,900 to help find his permanent successor. Councilors Gilda Stratton and John Raymond voted against accepting the resignation and Councilor Jimmy Busque left the meeting early.
Conlogue is leaving the job to become Houlton’s new town manager. The Houlton Town Council voted unanimously to hire Conlogue during its meeting Monday.
The Houlton council began searching for a new manager in March, when Doug Hazlett resigned after seven years in the position.
Conlogue’s hiring came after the council thought it had found its new manager in Wade Hanson, who once worked as the town’s code enforcement officer and its community development director. Hanson resigned from that position last September to serve as the economic development director for the Houlton Band of Maliseets.
Then councilors announced on Aug. 13 that they had hired him to be the next town manager and expected Hanson to assume his post on Sept. 10.
Two weeks after he was hired, however, Hanson changed his mind. He gave no reason for his decision and remains employed by the Maliseets.
Pray’s experience at the state and federal levels more than makes up for his lack of local government experience, Davis said.
“He understands government process even though he doesn’t have experience at the local level. His other experiences will help him do this on the local level,” Davis said.
Like Conlogue, Pray opposes Roxanne Quimby’s proposed national park and is serving on a committee formed by the Penobscot County Commission to oppose the park.
Davis said he will meet with Maine Municipal Association officials on Tuesday to discuss how to find Conlogue’s permanent successor. No deadlines for that hiring have been set.
“I don’t look to have it be a fast process. It is a big job ahead of us,” Davis said.