Hartland hires new town manager

By CHRISTINA DOLAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-04-2024 4:18 AM

HARTLAND — The Selectboard voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to hire John Broker-Campbell, of Weathersfield, as Hartland’s new town manager.

Broker-Campbell, 44, and his wife moved to Vermont about 15 years ago, where he worked in emergency planning for the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission (now the Mount Ascutney Regional Commission). A Michigan native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, he holds a bachelor of arts degree in environmental policy and planning.

He is currently the southern region floodplain manager for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and also serves as Weathersfield’s town moderator.

In an interview Wednesday, Selectboard Chairman Phil Hobbie pointed to Broker-Campbell’s career path as evidence of his qualifications and desire for the job.

“John has a lot of experience at the local, county and state levels of Vermont government,” Hobbie said, noting that that experience will serve as a strong background for the town manager role.

“He has demonstrated skills in those jobs that we were looking for,” Hobbie said, including good communication, enthusiasm and “a track record that says, ‘I want to be in this business.’ ”

The announcement brings to a close a six-month, nationwide search that began shortly after the resignation of Dave Ormiston, who had held the position since 2017. Ormiston was put on paid leave in late March following allegations by town employees that he had created a hostile work environment in the town offices.

Ormiston’s resignation was accepted by the Selectboard on May 8.

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“We took a month or so to get our ducks in a row,” and began the search in July, said Hobbie.

Town Finance Administrator Martin Dole has been serving as interim Town Manager since Ormiston’s departure.

“The board was very gratified that he was able to step in and do the work he did,” said Hobbie. “The whole staff really supported Martin and the board.”

Hobbie also praised the community of Hartland as a whole for coming together during a challenging period, praising the town for its “strong community membership.”

“It took a lot longer than we thought,” said Tom Yennerell at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Yennerell, of Municipal Management Services, Inc., was hired by the town to coordinate the search. In addition to organizing the search, Yennerell also stepped in to assist Dole with certain projects during the interim period.

Just as the Selectboard was finalizing a contract for the position in November, the top candidate unexpectedly withdrew from consideration, forcing the search to begin anew.

“It took two rounds, but I am pleased with the outcome,” Hobbie said.

He believes that the main reason for the relatively long period of the search process was that there were a number of openings at the town manager level in the region. Thetford, Norwich and Hartford were all working to fill town manager vacancies within the past year as well.

The Hartland Selectboard interviewed eight candidates in total, and Hobbie noted that “we had a lot of candidates from out of state who wanted to move to Vermont to start a career.”

Reached by telephone on Wednesday, Broker-Campbell said that he thinks that his varied background in state and municipal governance, plus Hartland’s modest size and strong community, make it “a good fit for me.” Hartland has a population of about 3,400 residents.

Broker-Campbell’s tenure as town manager will begin on Feb. 5. His salary will be $92,000, with 15 days of vacation each year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Hobbie thanked the town’s staff for participating in the interviews and providing feedback on the candidates, as well as “keeping the town operations running smoothly.”

Christina Dolan can be reached at cdolan@vnews.com or 603-727-3208.