LEWISTON — Denis D’Auteuil will leave his position as acting city manager in Auburn and move across the Androscoggin River to Lewiston, where he’ll be the new deputy city administrator. 

News releases from both cities announced the move early Wednesday, and it comes while Auburn is still in the middle of a lengthy city manager search.

D’Auteuil will replace longtime Deputy Administrator Phil Nadeau, who will retire at the end of June.

D’Auteuil will be tasked with transitioning into a role held by Nadeau for the past 18 years. During his time, Nadeau and the city have received national attention for immigrant and refugee relations, with Nadeau serving as the unofficial spokesman for the city.

A Lewiston resident and native, D’Auteuil is leaving after serving six years in Auburn, first at Auburn Public Services, and the past year and a half as assistant city manager. He was named acting city manager in September 2016, following the departure of City Manager Howard Kroll.

Ed Barrett, Lewiston city administrator, said Wednesday that he contacted D’Auteuil when he heard D’Auteuil had removed himself as a candidate for the open Auburn city manager position.

In his news release, Barrett said D’Auteuil’s knowledge of Lewiston and city government will be beneficial to the management team.

“As a Lewiston native, he knows our community,” he said. “Through his service in Auburn, he is familiar with our local governments and has worked closely with and impressed members of our staff. As important, his time in Auburn has shown that he has the necessary background and leadership skills to make a significant contribution to moving Lewiston forward.”

In an Auburn news release, Mayor Jonathan LaBonte announced the city had received a letter of resignation from D’Auteuil, and has initiated a transition plan while the search for a city manager is completed.

“While the council is disappointed that we will lose Denis from our management team, we recognize that when unique career opportunities present themselves, one needs to be willing to take advantage of them,” LaBonte said. “Denis has committed to staying with Auburn through late March, allowing for the completion of some important city projects he’s led for us since stepping into this role.”

Auburn has seen a high turnover rate in city management over the past few years. 

D’Auteuil said Wednesday that he hadn’t been actively seeking a job in his hometown of Lewiston, but became interested when Nadeau announced his retirement.

“Everything went very quickly from there,” he said, adding that by midmorning Wednesday, he had already received a number of calls about the move. He said the reaction has been “very positive” so far.

In taking Nadeau’s place, he’ll assume a number of duties, including as chief union negotiator, Freedom of Access Act officer, and various committee positions such as the Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee, the Water Pollution Control Authority, and the Auburn-Lewiston Advisory Cable TV Committee. He’ll also provide staff support for the Immigrant and Refugee Integration Working Group chaired by Councilor Kristen Cloutier.

D’Auteuil will be paid a salary of $96,018 and will begin in Lewiston on April 6. The news release states the timing will give D’Auteuil “a several month period where (he) will work closely with Phil Nadeau to ensure a seamless transition.”

Nadeau said Wednesday that bringing in D’Auteuil came down to fortunate timing.

“We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to hire him, timing is everything in this business,” he said.

He said the two have had similar career paths in their respective cities. Both, at different times, have served as interim general managers for their respective city’s ice arena, and they’ve served together on the transit committee, among others. Both also served in the U.S. Air Force.

Nadeau said D’Auteuil has the ability to step into new roles and situations with confidence.

“He’s skilled, and he’s demonstrated that kind of flexibility and adaptability in Auburn,” he said.

“You have to be flexible in these types of positions,” D’Auteuil said about the deputy city administrator role.

When asked about stepping into Nadeau’s role as unofficial liaison with the immigrant community, D’Auteuil said he’s “looking forward to getting into the issues he’s working through, and helping out in any way I can.”

“It will be a whole brand new experience in many ways for him,” Nadeau said.

In Auburn, LaBonte said as the City Council schedules interviews for a new city manager over the coming week, it intends to name John Bubier as acting city manager “to facilitate the transition of the 2017-18 budget process and allow for a smooth transition for Denis as he concludes initiatives for Auburn and moves into his new position.”

Bubier, a former Biddeford city administrator, has been working for Auburn under contract to develop the budget.

LaBonte said formal action will be taken to accept D’Auteuil’s resignation, as well as to appoint Bubier, at the City Council meeting Monday, Feb. 27.

D’Auteuil said he’s enjoyed his time in Auburn, and is proud of the city’s accomplishments over the years.

“I’m very grateful for the support from city staff, mayor and City Council, and the community as a whole,” he said in the news release. “They truly made my time in Auburn rewarding. I look forward to getting started in Lewiston and working with the staff, mayor, and City Council. There’s something special about getting the opportunity to work for both cities that make up the community where you grew up and are now raising your family in.”

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald also commented on the announcement Wednesday.

“Over my time as mayor, I’ve watched Denis and the work he has done in Auburn, and I’ve been impressed, as have the members of the City Council. We look forward to working closely with him in the coming years,” he said.

[email protected]

Auburn’s acting city manager, Denis D’Auteuil, stands in the window of his office. He has accepted the position of deputy city administrator for Lewiston.

2017 head and shoulders photo of Denis D’Auteuil

Update: Auburn closing in on new city manager

Comments are not available on this story.