Selectmen make choice on Town Administrator position

Apr 8, 2019

MARION — After interviewing three finalists for the Town Administrator position, the Board of Selectmen voted to offer the position to James or Jay McGrail, subject to contract negotiations.

McGrail currently serves as the Director of Facilities for Sandwich Public Schools. He has also served on the Sandwich School Committee. He will replace current Town Administrator Paul Dawson as he retires. 

Prior to taking the facilities position, McGrail served as the director of operations for the South Shore Country Club in Hingham for 11 years.

“I went to that property as a golf course guy and left that job as a municipal manager,” said McGrail at the April 8 interview. He enrolled in a municipal management program at Suffolk University to help make the transition.

He said he has presented at and attended town meetings in Sandwich and Hingham for the last 15 years.

In his interview McGrail emphasized the importance of listening to citizen concerns and communicating effectively. He proposed meetings with department heads every Monday, and a podcast-type show that would highlight Marion’s successes and allow him to meet more people.

The Sandwich candidate also has experience with sewer projects and handling students that move into the district through school choice, two of the issues Marion currently faces. 

McGrail reached out to Marion Finance Director Judy Mooney to talk about Marion’s financial situation and attended the last Board of Selectmen meeting.

The facilities director is interested in the Administrator position for the chance to get into municipal government and the challenge it presents.

“You won’t be bored here,” one of the Selectmen remarked, to which McGrail responded, “that’s what they keep saying [about past positions], and a year later I am bored.”

Other candidates for the position included Adam Wilson, who currently serves as town administrator of Aquinnah, but wants to move off the island.

The Selectmen noted that Wilson “came across much better than he did on paper,” but still preferred McGrail.

The other candidate was Debbie Blanchette, a Marion resident who is currently serving as treasurer in Barnstable. The Selectmen noted that much of Blanchette’s experience was financial, and they were looking for a candidate whose experience wasn’t quite as financial.

Selectmen noted that McGrail seemed anxious to get into municipal government, that he seemed to know what he was doing and that he had clearly done his research.

Bernard Lynch of Paradigm Associates called McGrail after the Board voted. The Selectmen will set up a meeting with McGrail to discuss contract negotiations on Thursday.