Wenham Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren will not be the next town administrator for the seaside town of Nahant. Chelgren lost out to Saugus Town Manager Andrew Bisignani on a 2-1 vote on Thursday night.
The three-member Board of Selectmen, saying both candidates were highly qualified, split over the issue of Bisignani's experience against that of Chelgren's.
If the town and Bisignani can reach an agreement on a contract, the Saugus town manager will succeed Mark Cullinan, who is leaving after 17 years as town administrator. Cullinan plans to turn his hobby of baking into a new career. He is becoming an apprentice to one of the best bakers in Boston, he said.
Board Chairman Elaine Titus voted for Chelgren because of his ability “to build relationships within the community.” She said she talked with several people in Wenham, including her sister, who is a teacher. Those she spoke to praised Chelgren for “bringing all sides to the table” on such issues as the budget and particularly the budget for the .
Titus said Chelgren had also been innovative in working through tough financial issues facing Wenham.
Board members Michael Manning and Richard Lombard voted for Bisignani, who is a 17-year resident of Nahant, because of his “breath of experience,” Manning said.
“The fact that he has survived for nine years speaks volumes,” Manning said.
Chelgren, who has worked at since 2002, has about the same amount of experience managing a town government. The two members of the Nahant board seemed to think that managing town government in Saugus presented more challenges than managing the town of Wenham.
“Bisignani handled the issues in Saugus with relative ease despite the turmoil there,” Manning said.
The Nahant search committee, which was praised for doing “a fantastic job,” narrowed the candidates for the position from 74 applicants to three. The third candidate, Orlando Pacheco in Lancaster, withdrew from the competition because he wanted to finish a major town-owned solar energy project.
The Nahant position is expected to pay a salary between $84,200 to $101,800. Chelgren's salary in 2010 was $93,899.