As a young airman, Richard “Dick” Davis became interested in government in general. He went on to gain a wealth of knowledge overseeing towns in Franklin and Oxford counties for over 37 years.

For years Richard “Dick” Davis of East Wilton has sat behind a desk managing municipal governments, but soon he will have more time to enjoy the outdoors and his family when he retires in August as town manager in Farmington after 20 years. Submitted photo

Davis, 66,  grew up in Pittsfield and graduated from the Maine Central Institute in 1973.

He spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. After his discharge he attended the University of Maine at Orono, graduating in 1983 with a bachelor of arts degree in public management.

“Later during my career I took night classes and earned a master’s degree in public administration in 2003, also from the University of Maine, Orono,” he said.

He has served on the Maine Municipal Association’s Legislative Policy Committee for many years, as well as the board of directors for the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments. He served for 16 years on the board of trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, as well as many other local boards and committees over the course of my career.

He will retire in August after managing the town of Farmington for 20 years.

“Farmington has been a great place to work,” he said. “The staff are very dedicated and professional.  That always makes a manager’s job easier.  I will miss them the most.”

What made you decide to become a town manager? I decided to become a town manager when I became interested in government in general as a young Airman in the mid-1970s. After returning to Maine, I decided to study political science at UMO. I soon concentrated on public management.

How many years have you been a manager and what towns have you served in? After college, I was hired as the manager of Buckfield, where I worked from 1984 to 1988. I was hired in Wilton in 1988, and served for 13½ years. In 2001, I started work in Farmington, and the rest is history  I will retire on August 27th, which will be my 20th anniversary in Farmington. In total, I have worked as a town manager for over 37 years.

Do you share your knowledge with other town managers? I do get inquiries from other managers from time to time about how to approach certain issues. I’m always glad to share what I have learned over the years. In fact, I am a Maine Town, City, and County Management Association ambassador, which means I am available to advise other managers.

What is the best part and the worst part of being a manager? To me, the best part of being a manager is helping to improve my community and assisting residents with matters that affect them. There really is no “worst” part, although the many evening meetings can be tiresome.

What skills are needed to run a town, efficiently? Skills needed to manage a town efficiently are almost exclusively people skills.  By that I mean the ability to listen, understand, and respond to concerns, and have empathy — in short, getting along with people. A good manager should also be organized, responsive, adaptive, proactive, and have a vision for the community.  An understanding of financial practices and good communication skills are also important.

What would you say is best experience you have gained in the position? Seeing progress in addressing the town’s vast infrastructure needs. These range from seeing the construction of a town garage and salt storage building to retrofitting the police station to making sure the municipal departments are adequately equipped. I am also pleased that we have been making gradual but steady improvements to the town’s 104 miles of roads.

Do you have plans for after you retire? My plans for retirement include getting outside more, hiking, camping, and riding my bicycle. I also plan to travel with my wife, Shelly, visit friends and family, and spend time relaxing at our family camp. At some point, I may return to municipal work in some fashion, but I want to relax first and enjoy a newfound freedom.

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