PELHAM -- Police Lt. Brian McCarthy, a former New Hampshire state trooper and Brookline, N.H. police chief, made a remarkable transition from a very unique 25-year police career Tuesday by signing a contract with the Board of Selectmen, making him the new town administrator.
Selectmen voted unanimously, 5-0, to hire McCarthy, concluding a three-month search that began when former Town Administrator Ton Gaydos resigned in February for reasons that were not made public.
In the board's meeting Tuesday that was held to reveal the identity of the new town administrator, Selectmen Chairman Ed Gleason said McCarthy is retiring from the Pelham Police Department, which he joined in 2005, to officially take the reins from acting Town Administrator Joe Roark, the town's police chief, effective June 1.
McCarthy's town-administrator contract, which McCarthy and each selectman took turns signing after the announcement, will pay him $85,000 annually, Gleason reported. At the time of his departure, Gaydos was being paid $103,000 per year.
Gleason said selectmen chose McCarthy from 24 original applicants and six finalists who were interviewed by the board in closed-door sessions earlier this month, determining that he embodies the best combination of management experience, and leadership, budgetary and interpersonal skills necessary to do the job well.
"In his capacity as a town employee, Mr. McCarthy has demonstrated an ability to handle a wide range of issues, all of which are essential to effectively perform the town administrator's tasks," Gleason said.
"In his previous role as a command officer in our Police Department, he has experienced first-hand our town's operations, seen its needs, is aware of its challenges and has demonstrated an ability to manage people, situations and financial challenges going forward," Gleason added. "He is a citizen of Pelham and is proactively involved with our citizenry, demonstrating his concern for our town and his interest in making our town a better, safer, and more efficient place to live."
McCarthy, 49, thanked selectmen for hiring him, and for their faith in his ability to do the job.
"I'm very honored... and very excited that, although I am retiring from police work in this community, I am still going to have an opportunity to serve this community at the government level, a very unique opportunity that a lot of police officers don't ordinarily have," McCarthy said.
McCarthy pledged to maintain an open-door policy and to be a collaborative "team player" in seeking solutions to problems together with town officials and residents.
"If anyone has a question about anything that goes on in town, my door is always open," McCarthy said. "I'll be happy to talk with anybody in town that wants to talk about anything that's important to them and important to the growth and development of Pelham.
McCarthy became emotional as he credited his wife, Pam, for encouraging him and assuring him that he was fully qualified to apply for the position, which represented a major career transition.
"Like any good wife, she has that ability to make you think about things and opportunities that you might not have considered," McCarthy said. "I would not be anywhere in my life and career without my wife, really. I'm a lucky guy. She knows how to point me in the right direction."
Pam McCarthy previously gave her husband sage and fortuitous career advice when they first decided he should give up his position in Brookline, N.H., to accept an offer to become a N.H. state trooper in 1997, which he said proved to be a great learning experience for him. Eight years later, his wife urged him to accept Roark's offer to join the Pelham police in 2006, knowing his affinity for community policing and adding that he missed that type of police work, McCarthy said.
"I've had an excellent police career, a lot of great agencies, a lot of fun," McCarthy said. "And when you look at demands of both jobs, I've managed people most of my career. I helped the chief manage the budget. When the chief has been away for the last four months I've been pretty much been running the Police Department. It segues to over here you have to have good management, organizational skills and you have to be a good human resources guy, too."
Due to McCarthy's evident appetite for interacting with people, Roark took to referring to him by the nickname, "The Mayor of New Hampshire," McCarthy said.
"Sometimes when we've gone to functions together, he's had to tell me, 'Brian, no Mayor of New Hampshire today, OK? Let's try to get in, and get out.' I'm always shaking hands and talking to people. I'm big on networking, and I think that's a big part of the town administrator's job as well."
Roark was publicly thanked and given highest marks for his performance as the interim chief administrator by Gleason and fellow Selectmen William McDevitt, Hal Lynde, Doug Viger, and Bob Haverty.
Lynde said Roark demonstrated that a career police professional could "seamlessly" transition to handling the town administrator's duties, thereby "opening the board's eyes" to the idea McCarthy could be their best choice from the pool of job candidates.
"Brian is more than capable," said Roark at Tuesday's meeting. "He's been a trusted adviser of mine for many years. I don't see any hurdles that he can't overcome. If I can do the job, he most certainly can do the job."
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McCarthy was raised in Burlington and graduated from Burlington High School in 1983. He attended North Shore Community College in Beverly where he focused on a police career, training and testing. He was hired as a part-time officer in Brookline, N.H., in 1988.
McCarthy moved with Pam into their Webster Avenue home in Pelham in 2002.
McCarthy is a member of St. Patrick's Church Men's Group. He is also a volunteer tour guide at the New Hampshire Airport Museum in Manchester, N.H. His interests include restoring vintage automobiles, aviation, travel and fitness.
Gleason said he planned to call a staff meeting of town department heads and employees on Thursday morning to meet with McCarthy.