ELLSWORTH — With the full approval of the City Council, Police Chief Glenn Moshier was named city manager on Jan. 11.
Moshier joined the Police Department 17 years ago and has served as police chief since 2017. He was named interim city manager in September 2020 following former City Manager David Cole’s retirement. Moshier will retain some of his duties as police chief and the title. His new merged position starts Jan. 17.
“I look forward to bringing the community together, opening lines of communication and working with the groups to address the needs of the city,” Moshier said following the council’s unanimous vote.
Moshier holds a bachelor’s degree in government, apart from his law enforcement training and certifications. As interim city manager, he negotiated solar contracts that will allow the city to save on electricity costs by purchasing energy credits. He is also working with Northern Light Medical Transport on an ambulance contract — a request from the ambulance service that took the city by surprise — and helped lead the city through the pandemic during the fall and early winter months.
The search to fill the city manager position ended last December when the final candidate withdrew during negotiations and no other applicant met the council’s satisfaction. The council then entered negotiations with Moshier.
Over a dozen community members raised concerns about the decision at Monday’s council meeting. Residents spoke against merging the positions of police chief and city manager, arguing that both positions need full-time coverage. They also said the council did not follow its stated hiring process and, while praising Moshier, questioned whether his background matched the qualifications for the city manager position. An ad hoc group formed around the issue, Citizens Acting for a Responsible Ellsworth.
“I felt you all had made a kind of commitment and promise to the citizens to have a transparent and inclusive process, where citizens could follow that process and provide input and feedback to the council,” Todd Little-Siebold said, adding later in his comments: “It does not seem like a simple task to do those two [jobs] together. I would urge the council to pause, to consider how it moves forward.”
The council does not agree with the assessment of its hiring process, Councilor Marc Blanchette said.
“We understand some community members feel this is a diversion from the process, but we do not share that same opinion,” he said. “We believe it was entirely appropriate to review Mr. Moshier’s credentials before starting the process.”
A few residents voiced their support for the decision, mainly through Facebook, which is not considered a means of sending public comments to the council.
Moshier addressed community concerns: “I certainly sympathize with the folks who brought questions about my capabilities and my experience to lead the city going forward and, much like them, when we began this process of searching for a city manager, I had high hopes and high expectations of what the next city manager might bring to the community.”
He also discussed how the joint position would work, with him handling “high-level items such as policy, procedures and planning” for the Police Department, with day-to-day oversight to be the responsibility of the deputy chief.
Moshier lives in Winter Harbor but spoke of loyalty, love and commitment to Ellsworth, noting he has “dedicated the last 17 years of life to serving the people of Ellsworth … I grew up in this community; I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. There’s very little about Ellsworth that I don’t know.”
He added: “None of this makes me qualified as a city manager, but it makes me highly qualified to understand the people of Ellsworth and … their needs going forward.”
Council Chairman Dale Hamilton said details of Moshier’s contract, including salary, will be available to the public once the contract has been signed.
The Maine Municipal Association has no issue with one person filling both the police chief and city manager positions, although it is not common, Eric Conrad, Director, Communication & Educational Services said. “Every year you hear of a few cases. It’s really up to the council to decide whether the same person can hold both positions. If the council does think it can work, we have no objection to that.”