by Carla Occaso
MONTPELIER — City Manager William Fraser has withdrawn his candidacy as potential Town Manager in Amherst, Massachusetts, effective May 4. The New Amherst City Manager was named June 6. Fraser had applied for the position in March during a time when his own contract underwent extended secret discussions by City Council.
With Fraser out of the Amherst race, that left Paul Bockelman, director of administration and finance for the Massachusetts Municipal Association, according to an article by Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The Amherst selectboard’s first choice, Maria Capriola, withdrew when contract negotiations broke down, Merzbach states. Capriola is the assistant town manager in Mansfield, Connecticut.
Montpelier City Council ratified Fraser’s contract during the April 27 meeting, but he did not withdraw his candidacy from the Amherst position immediately. In a letter dated May 4, Fraser wrote “After a great deal of reflection, I wish to withdraw my candidacy for Town Manager in Amherst. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in the process and be considered a final candidate.
I apologize for any problems this may cause. I have been very serious about this position since making my application. The day spent in Amherst, however, was very important and informative for me. I expected, and hoped, to leave the day full of excitement and anticipation about this potential opportunity. Instead I have wrestled with lingering uncertainty.”
Fraser stated his decision came at a price.
“My decision has not been made lightly. Between the advertised Amherst pay range and my eligibility for Vermont pension, I am potentially foregoing a significant income increase if I were the successful candidate. I cannot, however, justify disrupting my family and my current community without being fully enthusiastic about the potential change. I felt it essential to communicate this before your deliberation on Thursday,” Fraser wrote to the Town of Amherst Selectboard. The Amherst job came with a $155,000 salary excluding any benefits. Fraser’s Montpelier contract affords a $106,000 salary excluding benefits.
Fraser’s loss is Bockelman’s gain. “I’m happy and excited to begin work in Amherst,” said Bockelman, according to reporter Merzbach. And the feeling was mutual, “We are very happy to welcome Paul, a Hampshire College alum, back to his beloved Amherst,” Select Board Chairwoman Alisa Brewer said in a statement she read following the vote.