Townspeople meet Poland town manager finalist


POLAND — The Town Manager Search Committee on Tuesday held an informal meet and greet to introduce residents to Linda-Jean Briggs, one of two finalists for the position.

Briggs, who until recently was the town manager in Dexter, is a Rhode Island native who spent most of her working career — 23 years — with Verizon in Providence and Pawtucket, having earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in quality systems management.

After twenty-three years in private industry, Briggs, as she put it, “changed her dream” and went back to school to earn a master’s degree in public administration, during which time she interned with the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and worked as a lobbyist for the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island before becoming Dexter’s town manager in 2011.

Asked what drew her to Maine, Briggs said, “It’s all about the quality of life here in Maine. Mainers are expert at making do, in finding creative ways to take care of their families.”

Don Gerrish, a consultant with Eaton-Peabody helping the search committee, said Tuesday’s session was an opportunity for Briggs to get a feel for what the town of Poland was all about — and to give residents an idea of who might be their next manager.

“It’s a method being used more and more as towns try to pick out just the right person for them,” Gerrish said, “something we did in Freeport and recently in Auburn, before they hired Clint Deschene.”

Briggs spent the afternoon meeting with department heads. In the evening, she met with residents who dropped by the Town Office for a chance to meet her, air their concerns and perhaps size up the candidate.

Selectman James Walker Jr., who serves on the nine-member search committee, said that while department heads and residents who came to meet Briggs wouldn’t be involved in the decision to hire, he expected search committee members might receive a few comments from them in the few days remaining before the committee makes its decision.

“I’m sure the search committee will get feedback from folks who met (Briggs) today,” said Dick Metivier, consultant with Eaton-Peabody, “and also important is the information the candidate gathers about the town they might be asked to lead.”

The search committee met in private with Briggs following the meet and greet, but will not be making a decision until after Thursday.

On Thursday, the search committee will bring the second finalist for the town manager position to town and repeat the process. Residents are invited to a meet and greet from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Town Office Conference Room.