Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Massachusetts man chosen as Vernon town administrator

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
June 7, 2006

VERNON - A Massachusetts man with local government experience in both the Boston area and the Midwest has been tapped to become the town administrator.

On Tuesday, the Town Council unanimously approved the appointment of Christopher Clark, 40, of Sturbridge, Mass., to serve as administrator, beginning June 19.

Clark will replace Town Administrator Laurence R. Shaffer, who is leaving at the end of June to become town manager in Amherst, Mass.

Mayor Ellen L. Marmer has said that she wanted the new administrator to start before Shaffer's departure to allow for some overlap between the two.

Because Clark's contract has not been signed yet, information about his salary was not available.

Clark was selected from a pool of 47 people who applied for the position.

A handful of the applicants were brought in for interview, and Clark emerged as one of the finalists from that group, officials said.

Clark's most recent stint in municipal government came in Wellesley, Mass., where he served as the town's acting executive director from October 2004 to September 2005. He also served as the assistant director and chief financial officer during his time in Wellesley, which began in July 1997.

While in Wellesley, Clark was responsible for drafting and implementing the town's first financial plan.

As acting executive director, he negotiated five collective bargaining agreements with municipal unions.

Clark left Wellesley in August 2000 to serve as city administrator in Tonganoxie, Kan., a position he held until November 2001, when he returned to Wellesley.

He also served as an assistant town administrator in Walpole, Mass., from 1994 to 1997 and assistant town coordinator of Westborough, Mass., from 1990 to 1994.

Clark earned his master's degree in public administration from Suffolk University in Boston and his bachelor's degree in public administration from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts.

After the council's vote, Clark said he was looking forward to his new job and learning more about the inner workings of municipal government in both Vernon and Connecticut.

Clark, who grew up in Easton, Mass., said he toured the town during the interview process and said he was impressed with what he saw, particularly the old mill facilities.

"That's something you see in different towns throughout New England," Clark said. "Like any community, they have some things that need work. I think it's good to highlight both."

Clark said he also was impressed with the town's department heads.

During the selection process, department heads were given the opportunity to interview the town administrator candidates.

Marmer said she was impressed by Clark's experience and his demeanor, particularly the way he interacted with the department leaders during his interview.

"I think his credentials and background speak for themselves," Marmer said. "I think he will be a great asset to the town."

Republican Deputy Mayor Jason L. McCoy, a member of the committee that interviewed Clark and the other administrator candidates, said the new hire was a "well-rounded" professional.

"We all look forward to working with him," McCoy said.

Clark, who is married and has three children, said he intends to continue living in Sturbridge and make the roughly 30-minute commute to Vernon.

©Journal Inquirer 2006