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Sunday, January 02, 2011
An Open Letter To Westfield Town Administrator James Gildea Part 1
Picture from Westfield Patch
Sunday, September 30, 2001 was a day the Town of Westfield took a detour on it's search for a new town administrator. There would be no search for a replacement to fill the void left by Town Administrator Tom Shannon's July 6th "surprise resignation" effective September 30th. Well, maybe a surprise to some, but not to others.
There you sat Jim, the backup QB, the second seat co-pilot to the captain of the plane, the deputy to the sheriff;..... you were playing second fiddle to the Admiral of the S.S. Westfield.
Some might say you were a “shoe-in” for the job.You were no stranger to Westfield.Your parents owned businesses in town, Celtic Imports Limited and Juxtapose Gallery and you had worked for the town is some capacity as far back as 1988 while you were still in college.
You were a lifeguard, a swim instructor, and manager of Memorial Pool.In 1993 you would assume the full-time position of Assistant Recreation Director.In December of 1999, you left your “cocoon” to work in the private sector but soon returned to the “nest”.Did you return to Westfield due to the administrator vacancy in 1999?Did you have your “eye on the prize?”Did you think you had a shot at the position?
After obtaining an undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont in small business management, you came “back home.”It must have been hard to concentrate on your studies while attending a university ranked in the top five, of every major publication, of “Top Party Schools” in the United States.Nonetheless, in due time, you would rise to Deputy Town Administrator.
When had Westfield ever had a “deputy” under the town administrator?Nobody can recall Westfield ever having a Deputy Town Administrator; that is until you came back home.Was it the town’s way of lining you up for the Administrator job?
You did not have the certifications at the time to be Westfield Town Administrator but you were working on your master’s degree in public administration from Kean University.Instead of the town conducting a search for a new town administrator, instead of holding interviews of potential candidates, was the town council “holding” the job for you?It wouldn’t be the last time that town officials would hold a position open for someone without the necessary certifications to assume the position being held for them.
Westfield is not a “small business” that could be run by someone with a degree in small business management.Maybe you had your eyes on taking over your mom and dad’s downtown Westfield “small businesses.”
But Westfield was in a quandary.Mr. Shannon left town stating “personal reasons.”Some of those that are intimate with what goes on in Town Hall know what those personal reasons were; so do I.The Perfect Storm had arrived in Westfield and you were there to take the helm of the Andrea Gail.But this was no Hollywood movie, Westfield is not Gloucester, Massachusetts and you were no fisherman with the Captain’s certification to steer the boat from disaster.