Having gone without a county manager for the past seven months, Dukes County will continue on without one for yet another few weeks.
On Saturday, March 22, the county commission interviewed two finalists for the position but ultimately decided to wait until April 4 to discuss the candidates or take any action. The finalists are F. Tenney Lantz of South Dartmouth and Russell H. Smith of Aquinnah.
The county has been without a manager since last August when E. Winn Davis left his post. Since then, county treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders has been acting county manager. In February, she told the commission she did not wish to continue in the position past April 1.
Although the position has yet to be filled, it is not for a lack of effort from the commission. In August, the commission appointed a screening committee to vet applicants for the post. The process hit a number of roadblocks and finally ended in November when the commissioners took over the search themselves. They narrowed a pool of twelve applicants down to three finalists, but, after a round of interviews, they ultimately readvertised the position.
Nine applications came back this time around, and on Saturday, the commission interviewed their two finalists.
Until January, Ms. Lantz was the chief operating officer and director of administration with Girl Scout Council of Southeastern Massachusetts. She now practices elder and Medicaid law in Dartmouth.
Mr. Smith is the legislative liaison for Martha’s Vineyard. He was also a finalist in the November search for county manager.
Each applicant on Saturday was posed a series of 14 questions. “I’ve always wanted to live on Martha’s Vineyard,” Ms. Lantz said when asked what attracted her to the position. “I’m an administrator, I’m a manager. The combination of these two was pretty attractive to me.” Ms. Lantz touted the need for regional services. “In today’s economy, [regionalism] is going to be more and more necessary,” she said. She had no specific ideas for the future of county government on the Vineyard and, when asked what she would do in her first days in office, she said she would familiarize herself with the commission and the towns.
Mr. Smith, on the other hand, stressed his preexisting relationship with the Island community. Mr. Smith has been legislative liaison for the past 12 years. He also has served as an Aquinnah selectman and a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. “I was attracted to the job because of my long history of public service,” he said. “I think the county will become more viable in the future, not less.”
Mr. Smith told the commission Saturday that if appointed, he would hope to stay on as legislative liaison through the end of Rep. Eric T. Turkington’s final term in office. This would require he spend at least one full day in Boston each week.
The commission will meet on Friday April 4 at 9 a.m. to discuss the finalists.