PEPPERELL -- Pepperell officials interviewed two finalists for the town accountant position Monday.
The chosen candidate will replace Gene Ferrari, who left the position in March to take a job working for the town of Gardner. A decision will be made in about a week by selectmen and members of the town's finance team, Town Administrator John Moak said.
The field had already been narrowed to two following preliminary interviews with about 10 candidates.
"This position is a position that is one of respect in the community, and that respect is generated by the work that the accountant does," Moak said. "It's a very helpful position and a very important position in the operation of municipal government."
Moak said the town is looking for a team player who can manage the town's day-to-day accounting responsibilities.
"We like strong individuals, but we like strong individuals who work together so we can all come out of here and get the best results," he said.
Lori Blanchard, of Richmond, N.H., has worked in municipal government in three different towns. She worked as a part-time treasurer and later part-time accountant in Royalston, and served as full-time accountant for the towns of Orange and Maynard. She currently does accounting for Harvard Forest, an outdoor classroom program affiliated with Harvard University.
Blanchard said she choose to apply for the job because of the focus on teamwork in Pepperell's Town Hall.
"I mostly like the philosophy of leadership here," Blanchard said. "It's very much a team approach, people working together, and that's a style of leadership I was really looking for."
Her greatest strengths, she said, are problem-solving and mediating disagreements.
She also said she is highly focused and able to complete tasks quickly.
"If there's a deadline to meet, I will meet the deadline," Blanchard said.
Blanchard received certification as a Certified Governmental Accountant from the Massachusetts Municipal Auditors and Accountants Association at UMass Amherst. She also has an associate's degree from Mt. Wachusett Community College.
David Nalchajian, of Groveland, began his career in IT, and has since transitioned to working as a town accountant.
He has worked for the city of Newton and the town of Wellesley as a technology manager. In Wellesley, he took over as interim town accountant when the accountant left abruptly.
He is working in his fifth year as the town accountant in Holliston. He has an associate's degree in criminal justice from Bunker Hill Community College and a database certificate from UMass Lowell.
Nalchajian said he is eager to work in a region that he has loved since a brief time working as Westford's assistant town accountant.
"The challenge is very exciting to me. I'm very passionate about my work and you always want to be coming to a place that you really feel needed, and I think there's a good need for my capabilities here," Nalchajian said.
In other positions, Nalchajian said he has used his IT experience to help modernize towns' software systems, a skill he could apply in Pepperell.
Moak warned both candidates that the town's financial struggles, which could lead to a 5 percent budget cut for fiscal year 2015 unless a Proposition 2 1/2 override is passed, could pose challenges for the new accountant.
Although it may not affect the position itself, it could affect the support staff or the accountant's responsibilities, as other departments may be slimmed down and need more assistance, Moak said. But despite the tough decisions that may be coming, he said the town is still looking for ways to streamline operations.
"We need good access to our numbers, but in the meantime, we don't want to stay stagnant and not try to look to new ways of doing things, more efficient ways of doing things," Moak said.