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Five finalists in running for Ayer town administrator

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AYER — With little fanfare, the Ayer Board of Selectmen opened their meeting Tuesday by reading the recommendations of its Town Administrator Search Committee, which put forth the names of six finalists out of the original field of 66 applicants.

One of those six had already removed his name from consideration.

* Lifting any further doubt, interim Ayer Town Administrator Jeff Ritter, who started in mid-April, was indeed an applicant for the final post. At his initial interview to serve the board on an interim basis, Ritter was non-committal as to whether he’d seek the permanent post. On a dual track, Ritter is one of three final candidates for the recently created town manager post in Auburn, soon to be asked to host that town’s search committee on site visits at the finalists’ job sites. Ritter has served as an interim town administrator in Bridgewater and Groton, executive secretary in Wayland, town administrator in Blackstone and an administrative assistant to the Hatfield selectmen. Ritter is completing his master’s in public administration from Framingham State College.

* Other than Ritter, the only other finalist candidate present at Tuesday night’s meeting was Andrew Sheehan, former Lowell assistant city manager and former Westford assistant town manager. The Acton resident was hired April 20 to serve as interim Townsend town administrator. Sheehan has a master’s degree in education from the University of Lowell.

* Robert Pontbriand, the six-year chief of staff to former Fitchburg Mayor Dan Mylott, is presently a faculty researcher and advisory board member for the Regional Economic Development Institute at Fitchburg State College. Pontbriand, of Fitchburg, also served for two years as the director of economic development and governmental affairs for the North Central Massachusetts Development Corp. Pontbirand holds a master’s degree in government from Harvard University.

* Nick Breault, the five-year executive secretary for the town of East Longmeadow, lives in neighboring Longmeadow. In his cover letter to the Ayer screening panel, Breault explained his town was on the cusp of changing his title to town administrator, stating he fulfills the same functions as one. Previously Breault was six-year mayoral aide and press secretary for former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano. Breault has a master’s of business administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

* John Sanguinet, two-year assistant town administrator for Wareham, lives in Plymouth. He previously served Wareham as an interim town administrator for six months. Sanguinet was also previously Billerica’s assistant town manager, Truro’s assistant town administrator/planner, and the Abington town administrator. Sanguinet holds a master’s of public administration from Northeastern University.

* John Anderson, the sixth candidate, withdrew Friday. He’s been the town manager of Boothbay, Maine, for 10 years. Anderson has a bachelor’s degree in management labor relations, according to his LinkedIn Internet profile. Since he withdrew Friday, his name was revealed, but Anderson’s resume was not released by the Ayer selectmen’s office.

Selectmen scheduled a meeting for Thursday, July 1, to meet with each of the remaining five finalists publicly in back-to-back 45-minute meetings.

Mum on Keady

As to earlier reports attributed to former Shirley selectman Enrico Cappucci that Shirley Town Administrator Kyle Keady was an applicant for the Ayer Town Administrator post, Ayer selectman and screening committee member Jim Fay would not comment Tuesday night. Fay said he could neither confirm nor deny that Keady was in the mix, just like the other 60 candidates whose identities would be sealed.

The four Ayer selectmen present Tuesday night all withheld any comment on the Keady matter that overtook newscasts that day. That morning, the 46-year old Shirley town administrator was hauled into Ayer District Court and charged with a variety of seedy crimes, with a promise from the Middlesex district attorney’s office of more charges to come, after his arrest at his Shirley home Monday night.

Keady was charged with making illegally audio and video recordings around Shirley Town Hall, with many photos and videos of women in various stages of undress filmed via secret camera plants in the women’s restroom. Keady was released on $2,500 cash bail and ordered to stay away from Shirley Town Hall and the employees he allegedly victimized.

Fay was the only selectman to acknowledge the topic by stating the Ayer selectmen’s office has extended an offer of administrative support to their brother Shirley selectmen on an interim basis.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday night whether Shirley selectmen accepted the Ayer selectmen’s offer.