No shortage of candidates for Fenwick job

The first phase of Fenwick Island’s town manager search is almost complete.

Nearly 100 candidates have already submitted applications to the Town, according to Mayor Audrey Serio. The final day for submissions is Saturday, Oct. 15, after which the Town Council will review all applications. The council will meet Tuesday, Oct. 25, to begin the selection process.

The Town began advertising for the position in August, after current Town Manager Win Abbott accepted the town manager job in Milton.

Applications have arrived daily at town hall, Serio said, with approximately 100 applications submitted as of Oct. 10.

Serio said she did not know how long it might be until Fenwick Island has a new town manager, but the council will need “more than one sitting” to review candidates, she predicted.

Until then, Tom Wontorek is serving part-time as interim town manager. Wontorek has been town and city manager for at least seven municipalities in the last 30 years. He previously filled in between the departure of Fenwick’s first town manager, Tony Carson, and Abbott’s arrival in April 2009.

Whoever is appointed next will only be Fenwick Island’s third town manger ever.

Carson’s arrival in March 2007 followed extensive research on the role and necessity of such a position, and the subsequent transition from a town administrator government model in which council members had handled executive roles on a near-daily basis.

“We realized that we needed someone to run the day-to-day operations of the town,” Serio said.

The town administrator performed much of the work then, but a town manager must have special abilities for the position, ranging from everyday tasks to special grant work. Financial experience and expertise were considered a major requirement of the job during discussion held before it was created.

Carson brought to the job experience as a former county administrator in Trumbull County, Ohio. Before Abbott arrived in 2009, he had worked in business development and was a council member in Clayton, Del.

As Fenwick Island Council members sort applications in the next week, they will look for a well-rounded potential manager. As Abbott said on multiple occasions, he acted under the council’s direction.

The job description on Fenwick Island’s Web site said the manager supervises all Town operations, nearly 15 year-round employees and additional seasonal employees. Ideal candidates have excellent communication and organizational skills; prior management experience or knowledge in municipal governments; experience in government grants; and a bachelor’s degree in public administration or a related field.