New in town: Marion hires town administrator

Jan 5, 2023

MARION — The search for a new Marion Town Administrator came to an end as the Select Board hired Evan Lehrer, Mashpee Town Planner, in a 2-1 vote during a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 5. 

Lehrer, 33, will succeed former Marion Town Administrator James McGrail who was hired as Middleboro Town Manager in October

“Evan is a brilliant young man and I liked him a lot,” said Select Board Chair Randy Parker. “I like Evan for a lot of reasons: he’s very well spoken — there was no hesitation in his response — times, dates, numbers, he’s very good at that. I think this is a great opportunity for the Town of Marion.”

He was one of three finalists brought before the Marion Select Board in a series of interviews that spanned three hours. 

Also considered for the position was Geoff Gorman, a Navy veteran and North East Head of Service for Millipore Sigma, a biotechnology research group; and Tom Guerino, former Bourne Town Administrator. 

Lehrer is a 2008 graduate of Tabor Academy and went on to study politics and French at Ithaca College, he earned a master’s degree in public affairs from Brown University. 

During his five-year tenure as Mashpee Town Planner, Lehrer said he learned a lot from Mashpee Town Manager Rodney C. Collins, who he said offered to lend assistance if Lehrer needed it. 

“I feel like I have been very successful in bringing that department forward and more consistent with the needs of the 21st century and the needs of the very near future,” said Lehrer. “Which is a skill set I’d like to bring to Marion.”

Lehrer also worked as Principal Planner in Central Falls, Rhode Island, and as an Economic Development and Long Term Planner in Brookline. 

He touted experience navigating projects involving many branches of municipal government.

Lehrer has worked on negotiations with Mashpee Commons, an open-air shopping center in Mashpee, the implementation of a fleet of municipal electric vehicles in Mashpee, and securing grants for the towns he has worked for.  

During his interview he noted that the difficulties facing Marion are similar to those he encountered while working in Mashpee.

“There are issues that seem to be not unique to any particular town, that are starting to trickle along the entirety of Cape Cod and South Coast,” he said. “They are generally related to housing attainability and affordability, water and wastewater considerations and then growth concerns.”

However, he admitted that one of his weaknesses is dealing with finances. 

“It's no secret that the glaring gap in my resume is financial acumen or at least experience,” said Lehrer. “But I do have a firm grasp and knowledge of the budgeting process of municipalities.”

Lehrer’s inexperience was one sticking point for Select Board Member Norm Hills, who preferred Gorman for the role. 

“Geoff was probably the most capable of the individuals we talked to,” said Hills. “I believe that Geoff can do what we need to do going forward.”

Parker and Select Board Member Toby Burr instead saw potential in Lehrer’s youth. 

“I would agree that Geoff would be more productive in the first year,” said Burr. “But I think that beyond the first year Evan would learn very quickly in years two, three, and four and would outshine Geoff.”

In the position of Town Administrator, Evan hopes to build a collegial and collaborative relationship with the select board, town departments, and the residents of Marion.

“Simple, little things go a long way,” he said, referring to how he’d build relationships with residents. “Office hours, meet at a coffee shop, make yourself visible, attend community events. It would be irresponsible not to do those things.”

As a Tabor Academy graduate, returning to Marion is something of a homecoming. 

“The memories I have in Marion are deep and profound,” said Lehrer. “I’ve always found that I’m most successful in communities where I have that connection.”

Now, Lehrer and the Town of Marion need to negotiate a contract, said Bernie Lynch, the founder of Community Paradigm Associates, LLC., a firm contracted by the town to hire a new town administrator.

Following negotiations, the town and Lehrer will determine a starting date.