The Select Board Monday unanimously approved a three-year contract extension for Town Manager Sarah Stanton.
The action is a vote of confidence following a public communication last week by her predecessor implying problems with her personnel management style and hiring practices.
Richard Reed’s letter to the editor of The Citizen did not mention Stanton by name, but the issues he raised were among her responsibilities.
In response, Select Board Chair Margot Fleischman Friday wrote that her board “has complete confidence in Town Manager Stanton and her department heads to recruit highly qualified candidates and make hiring decisions in the best interests of the town.” The statement was endorsed by other board members.
At Monday’s meeting, Fleischman echoed those sentiments. She said Stanton’s hiring was due to her finance and other crucial municipal leadership skills. She also appreciated Stanton’s work with providing stability to the Assessors Department and the strong relationships she has fostered with town employee unions.
Two members of the board acknowledged concerns about the town manager, though they were not specific.
William Moonan assured residents that their concerns are taken into consideration and are reflected in the contract to ensure the best scenario for the town. Ed Pierce reiterated Moonan’s points and said the Board would ensure that those who reached out were heard.
Other members were also complimentary. Emily Mitchell said that she is “delighted” to extend Stanton’s contract and praised her leadership, echoing many of Fleischman’s sentiments.
Bopha Malone acknowledged that she has only been on the board for the past year and has known Stanton for far less time than the other members, but has appreciated her work since her election in March 2020.
In response to the approved contract, Stanton said that she is thankful. The town manager acknowledged that the past two-and-a-half years have not been the easiest but is she is “optimistic to move Bedford forward.”
Fleischman praised the town manager’s work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring that the town is at the forefront of supporting local businesses and residents.
Stanton said the Select Board and Town Government need to evaluate government’s response to the pandemic to see what worked and what didn’t work. Stanton stressed that out of those reflections, the town needs to see how they can support residents involving themselves in government, equity, and small business.
Besides the length of the contract, other terms were not discussed.