With Ritter & 2 others scrapped, Auburn restarts manager hunt

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AUBURN — It’s been a rough couple of days for interim Ayer Town Administrator Jeff Ritter.

Ritter was passed-over by the Ayer selectmen on Wednesday, July 14 in favor of Leominster resident Robert Pontbriand for the permanent Town Administrator post in Ayer.

Then, almost exactly 24 hours later, the Auburn selectmen meet on Thursday, July 15. Ritter was in the final three for consideration as the town’s first Town Manager. The Auburn selectmen, however, decided to scrap their process and re-advertise the post.

Auburn voted to switch gears from a Town Administrative to a Town Manager form of government. Their former Town Administrator, Charles O’Connor, was also in the final three Thursday night and so was also passed over.

Auburn selectman Chairman Timothy Hicks says the vote was 3-2 to start again. Deliberations quickly revealed they collectively “just didn’t’ find that any of the three had any of the qualifications that we’re looking for,” Hicks said.

In Auburn, O’Connor is under contract until the end of the calendar year as interim Town Manager. Here in Ayer, Ritter is under contract to stay aboard through Friday, July 30 as interim Town Administrator.

On Tuesday, the Ayer Selectmen voted 4-1 to instead negotiate with Leominster resident Robert Pontbriand for the permanent post. Selectman Jim Fay was the sole holdout vote lobbing for Ritter’s hire.