Perry Ellsworth, the former town manager of Rangeley and South Berwick, will begin his tenure as Wilton’s town manager in August. Submitted photo

WILTON — Perry Ellsworth thought he’d be entering retirement when he resigned as South Berwick town manager in late 2021.

Now, he’s been hired as town manager starting in August.

Ellsworth has lived in Strong the past 35 years, where he raised his family and set roots. In that time, he has served on countless commissions, councils and boards, including the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, president of the Southern Maine Planning Commission Division, the Maine Land Use Planning Commission, president of the Maine Town and City Managers Association and is the senior advisor for Maine’s International City/County Management Association. He’ll have to give up some of these roles to serve as town manager.

Ellsworth was also a selectperson in Strong for seven years, chairing the board for six.

“I’ve probably chaired every committee in Franklin County,” he said.

He was town manager in Rangeley and South Berwick for over seven years and 10 years, respectively.


At the beginning of his time in Rangeley, Ellsworth said there was “a lot of managers, a lot of turnover and quite a lot of turmoil.”

But he said he worked with the selectmen and others to complete projects on sewers, the airport, the library and roads. He was similarly the manager for projects in South Berwick, where he was town manager for the longest period in the town’s history.

And in the face of “difficulty with the community,” Ellsworth was able to “establish a rapport between not only the town manager and the community but the town councilors and the community.”

Ellsworth said it’s always been important to him to have a strong relationship with the community, have an “open-door policy.”

“I think it’s important that the selectmen work with the community,” he said. “I think that the social aspect of being out and talking with residents and taxpayers is very, very important.”

It’s also important to him that boundaries be set: “that the selectmen have a good relationship with their town manager, but understand their role also.”


“I’ll be working for the selectpersons and everybody else will be working for me, which is what the basis of town management is supposed to be all about,” Ellsworth said.

“I’ve had that conversation with this board. And I think that they’re ready for it,” he added. “And I think we’re all going to get along just swell, just fine.”

Ellsworth did expect he’d be retiring in 2021, as did his wife.

“But I was missing my role in town government,” he said.

Wilton is also a lot closer than South Berwick, allowing him to live in Strong full time.

Ellsworth has watched from afar as outgoing Town Manager Rhonda Irish has done a “terrific job.” He said he supported Irish, whom he described as a best friend, when she first started in Wilton.


Ellsworth is hopeful that he can quickly build a rapport with the Select Board, town employees and community.

“I would hope to be able to develop the trust that I’ve been able to develop in other communities where people feel free and open to come talk to me at any point,” he said.

Ellsworth views Wilton’s strengths as its “potential for growth,” with an opportunity for downtown activities, Wilson Lake and the active community.

He’d like to utilize the town’s assets more as attractions. And he’d like to improve the water and sewer, which is already in process with the water transmission line project that he’ll soon be managing.

Ellsworth has signed a two-year contract and will receive $75,000 in his first year and $78,000 in the second.

He anticipates staying in the role for two to four years.


It’s an opportunity for him to prepare the town for a new era, for younger generations to take their place as leaders in the town.

“People who are becoming a town manager, it’s the new generation with new people,” Ellsworth said.

He views that generation as more progressive than those currently in charge – though he calls himself a “progressive conservative” who views change as important and inevitable.

“I think managing that change sometimes might be difficult, but at the same time, if that’s what the community wants, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

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