January 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Costa Rica: City Government: Beacon Villager: Costa Rica RPCV David Owen named interim town administrator in Maynard

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Costa Rica: Peace Corps Costa Rica : The Peace Corps in Costa Rica: January 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Costa Rica: City Government: Beacon Villager: Costa Rica RPCV David Owen named interim town administrator in Maynard

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Costa Rica RPCV David Owen named interim town administrator in Maynard

Costa Rica RPCV David Owen named interim town administrator in Maynard

Costa Rica RPCV David Owen named interim town administrator in Maynard

Owen named interim town administrator

By Michael Kane/ Staff Writer

Thursday, January 20, 2005

MAYNARD - A little more than one week after being interviewed by the Board of Selectmen for the position of interim town administrator, Bedford's David Owen is on the job in Maynard, preparing to help the town through a budget officials have described as in "crisis" and "at the alarmed stage."

"I need to try and figure out what the selectmen consider the top issues that needs to be dealt with right away are," Owen said. "I'm sure the budget is right there at the top of the list right now. I plan to jump in, immerse myself in the process and get up to speed as fast as I can."

While he described himself during his interview as "squeaky clean," carrying a proven track record and a "total commitment" to the job, his more than 20 years of experience in municipal government may have helped him land the job following interviews heavy with talks about budget problems.

Starting in Illinois as a community planner in the late 1970s, Owen's experience includes administration/executive positions in Needham, Burlington, Milton and Salem N.H. He also served as an interim executive administrator in Douglas in 2001.

He holds master's degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, and Southern Illinois University.

"I think everyone is very happy with the selection," Selectmen Chairman Robert Nadeau said. "I think he is a good fit for us with the kind of issues we are facing now."

Owen said his career path was chosen while in Costa Rica with the Peace Corps in the early 1970s, an experience he said "opened (his) eyes."

"It was a great assignment. I loved it," he said. "Finding you can work with people to address the economic issues facing their communities and people's lives_it's what set me on my current course, which I'm still on."

Owen said he signed a "three to six month" contract, which will carry the town through the budget process while Town Administrator Michael Gianotis is out on a medical leave. The extra time is available to help Gianotis catch up when he returns, board members told candidates during interviews.

Through his career, Owen said he has forged good working relationships with department heads and school superintendents. In response to questions from the board, he termed his management style as "consensus oriented."

"I'm not really big on the top-down, authoritative, military model where you give orders and expect people to follow them," Owen explained. "I believe you involve people in the process. If they are involved in the decision making process, the more they buy into it. They sort of own a piece of the decision."

As an interim, he noted, his job is to help guide the town through the upcoming budget and whatever other issues crop up while Gianotis is out.

"My sense is there is a good working team here," Owen said. "they don't need anybody coming in yelling orders or telling them what to do. They need help with coordination while pulling through this budget process and that is what I intend to do."

Asked about his experience with problem budgets and Proposition 2 1/2 overrides, Owen said he has dealt with both.

"I've been through a lot of difficult budget processes previously," Owen said, "including the severe recession of the 1990s. I still remember, quite vividly, all of the maneuvering we had to do to get through that."

Most recently, he served as Town Administrator in Milton, which he noted gets less than 5 percent of its taxes from commercial and industrial property and faced the same cuts to local aid affecting Maynard.

"The budgets were leveled funded or slightly less my entire time there, including the schools," Owen said.

During that time, no overrides were passed and the town made use of early retirement to restructure departments, Owen said.

In the 1980s, with Proposition 2 1/2 still relatively new, Owen served as the executive secretary in Needham, where an operational override failed to pass.

"Selectmen made some tough decisions," Owen said, referring to the process of deciding "what was absolutely essential and what was nice to have, but were not essential."

Citing his background, Selectman Mark Wesley asked Owen why he would agree to be an interim in Maynard.

Owen said his experience is that it is easier to find work while working. He is searching for a full-time position, he said. He reiterated that position Monday.

"I'm looking to stay active, not grow too much moss around my feet," he joked.

He went on to say the interim position would help him "maintain a profile as an active town administrator." His interim service in Douglas, he said, was a good experience for both sides.

"I hope it will be a benefit when the time comes to look for another full-time position," Owen said.

Overall, Owen said he enjoys working in the small town atmosphere and is looking forward to his stay in Maynard.

"Basically I'm a small town person," he said. "I grew up in a rural area and always liked small towns and small town people. I worked as an interim before so this isn't a totally new experience. It's new in many ways, but not totally. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be fun."

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Story Source: Beacon Villager

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