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Cambridge Begins Evaluating Candidates for Next City Manager

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An initial screening committee composed of Cambridge City Councilors, representatives from community organizations, and local residents has begun meeting to evaluate candidates for Cambridge’s next city manager, the city’s most powerful government post.

The 19-person committee had its first of three full-day, closed-door meetings to evaluate and interview candidates for the position last week. The group will meet again Friday and Saturday to continue deliberations.

A wide array of representatives from city institutions including the School Committee, the Cambridge Housing Authority, the Kendall Square Association, and Cambridge Bike Safety serve on the committee alongside four City Councilors.

In an interview last month, Councilor Marc C. McGovern, who oversaw the committee selection process, said more than 100 Cambridge residents had applied for one of the 15 non-Councilor spots on the committee. McGovern said he and the Council prioritized selecting members with a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives.

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“When you look at the people who we chose, it’s about as diverse of a committee as you’ve ever seen in the city in a variety of ways,” he said. “Not perfect, absolutely not perfect. But I think we did a really good job trying to balance all that.”

Reverend Vernon K. Walker, an official at the non-profit Communities Responding to Extreme Weather and a screening committee member, told The Crimson in April that he will be looking for city manager candidates who prioritize supporting marginalized groups.

“It’s important to have that voice at the table representing communities that are disproportionately affected by extreme weather and the climate crisis,” Walker said.

Thomas J. Lucey, Harvard’s director of government and community relations and a screening committee member, wrote in a statement that he looks forward to a partnership between Harvard and the new manager on “a wide range of shared interests.”

The vice chair of the Cambridge School Committee, Rachel B. Weinstein, who also sits on the screening committee, said in an interview last month she hopes the next manager will invest heavily in public education.

“We want a city manager who will go far above the state-required funding to give our schools and really give our young people the opportunities and resources that they deserve,” she said.

Following its three meetings, the committee will select a group of finalists to be evaluated in public hearings next month. The Council will then select a candidate to replace the current city manager, Louis A. DePasquale, who plans to retire in June.

In the interview, McGovern raised the possibility that the selected candidate might not be ready to take over by June, and said there may need to be contingency plans in place.

“We’ll have to make some kind of decision as to who’s running the show,” he said. “Do we keep Louis on for a couple months? Do we appoint somebody else? That’s a whole other ball of wax we have to consider and think about.”

—Staff writer Elias J. Schisgall can be reached at elias.schisgall@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @eschisgall.

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