Mutter: Most staff members will stay on

Mutter: Most staff members will stay on

Not ruling out changes in how departments operate

CUMBERLAND – Mayor-elect Jeff Mutter says he’s not planning “any wholesale changes” to town staff after he’s sworn in as mayor next month.

The Breeze previously reported that Finance Director Jason Parmelee had left for a job in Smithfield, and that Town Solicitor Tom Hefner was retiring. Mutter said there will only be a few other positions traditionally seen as mayoral appointments that see new faces in his administration. Those two positions haven’t been filled yet, said Mutter.

“Both are obviously high on the priority list,” he said. “We’re really, really trying to get those settled.”

With the solicitor’s office, Mutter said he’s trying to learn as much as he can about the intricacies of how operations are set up and how money is spent. Spending on legal services is quite complex, he said.

Even if he’s considering changes with certain “inherently political” appointment positions, said Mutter, he’s making every effort to retain good employees by moving them around.

“I think that if you’re doing your job, you shouldn’t lose your job because somebody wins or loses an election,” he said.

In some cases, a mayor simply has a relationship with someone he feels is best for the job under his administration, and it has nothing to do with the person currently occupying the position, said Mutter.

“The other positions, my feeling is I don’t care who they supported politically, that’s of no interest to me,” he said. “If you are performing your job well, then I’m willing to give that a shot. In the heavy majority that was the case.”

Nearly all appointed employees signed up for job interviews and did very well in those interviews, said Mutter. All those employees should be receiving letters about their job status this week.

The mayor-elect is not ruling out shakeups in how departments operate, acknowledging that some might be being hurt by competing interests and personalities. Asked specifically about the operations about public works/parks and recreation/highway, where there has been some friction over certain operations, such as field maintenance, he said everyone needs to come together. He said he’ll be meeting with all stakeholders, including athletic groups and department heads, to talk about field studies and facility maintenance.

“I don’t know about any restructuring, but I do know most of the people who are involved in that segment of government, and I’m confident we’re going to get on the same page,” he said.

As with any quality of life issue, residents simply ask for enough fields and they want them ready to go, said Mutter. “Our job is customer service” to make sure those needs are met, he said. Coming from a small business background, sometimes you have to work in HR, sometimes in IT, sometimes even cleaning the bathroom, he added.

“To me we’ve just got to get them ready,” said Mutter. “We have a lot of passionate people who want to arrive at the same conclusion, but with different ideas about how to get there.”

Mayor Bill Murray “has been more than accommodating,” said Mutter, and he’s assured the outgoing mayor that certain projects that won’t be quite done by the time the mayor leaves office, such as the public safety complex on Diamond Hill Road and a new baseball field on Martin Street, “are his stages,” having no input from the incoming mayor. “I’ve promised he can run those shows when they come up.”

Though there haven’t been any huge surprises as he’s gone through the transition process, said Mutter, it has been a nice surprise of sorts that things have been so amicable with Murray. All elections get personal on some level, he said, and it’s nice to be able to move beyond that. Anyone who puts their name on the ballot, goes through the process of getting elected, and then does this difficult job deserves full credit, he said.