OGUNQUIT, Maine — Matthew Buttrick has officially stepped down from his role as police lieutenant and assumed his responsibilities as acting city manager.
After being handed the reins on Friday, Buttrick attended his first Ogunquit Select board meeting Tuesday night as interim city manager, a position he is expected to hold for up to a year.
When it was his turn to speak, Buttrick thanked newly retired city manager Pat Finnigan for working with him over the past month to make a smooth transition.
“I appreciate all the support I have received from the board and residents, as well as the staff here,” Buttrick added.
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Board chair Heath Ouellette said Finnigan was also asked to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but declined.
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Buttrick outlined his vision and priorities for the year ahead and summarized his philosophical approach to working with city staff and the public.
“My approach to management in the police department as well as here will be that if you surround yourself with good people, you will get good results and good work,” he said.
As is the case with the Ogunquit Police Department, personnel who work for the city government are a major asset to the community, Buttrick said.
“They do a great job in what can be difficult circumstances, and I see myself here supporting those staff, here supporting the department heads and empowering them to make decisions and run their departments, here as resource and as a go-between for the select committee to be able to convey policies to its staff,” he said.
“I would like to make sure that we are all on the same page and that we are all working towards the same goals, and those goals are what is best for the town of Ogunquit and what is best for the citizens and the residents. visitors to the city of government,” he added.
In terms of working with various groups within the community – including some who spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting to voice their support and opposition to recent actions by the Select Board and others in town – Buttrick said it’s important to remember what makes Ogunquit special.
“As you’ve seen tonight, we have people who are passionate about their city and people who have different ideas about how things should be. The amazing thing about Ogunquit is, unlike to most places in the world…you live here because you want to live here,” he said. “If you’re in Ogunquit, most of the time you’ve decided to live here, you have chose to stay here or you chose to move here. It’s not something you can get in other communities, even around us. Some places where you stay where you were born. Other places you move because it makes financial sense for you to move there. I think Ogunquit residents and visitors are here because they want to be here and because they love Quit. »
It’s important, Buttrick said, to see the city’s work in that context, knowing that stakeholders want what’s best for their community, even when they disagree on what it is.
“It sounds cliche, but I would like different groups in the city to agree to disagree,” he said. “I think the only reason we’re so passionate is because we care so much about Ogunquit.”
Buttrick also mentioned that local leaders and the community at large should expect him to reinforce more policies and procedures.
“Coming from the police department, I’m passionate about policies and procedures. I like having documentation and rules to fall back on,” he said. “When someone wants to know why a particular decision was made, it’s important to refer to the methodology you used and the documentation you used to make that decision. It’s important to have processes that everyone follows in place.”
New fire chief, harbor master
At his first meeting as acting city manager, Buttrick recommended that the Select Board hire Russell Osgood as fire chief, and the council unanimously approved the hire.
Osgood, who lives in Cape Neddick, said he worked 26 years for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, including the last 23 years with the city’s fire department. He is currently a lieutenant and plans to retire before taking the job in Ogunquit.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” he said. “I really want to be part of the Ogunquit team to move forward and do great things with the people of Ogunquit. It feels like coming home.”
Board member Bob Winn said Osgood seemed like a perfect fit.
“I was very impressed with Russell, mainly because I think he’s a very compassionate man, and I think he’s really involved in the community, and obviously his credentials were pretty impressive,” Winn said. .
Board member Rick Dolliver agreed, praising Osgood’s qualifications and demeanor.
“I personally love that you’re just across the border. You’re kind and close,” Dolliver said. “It’s important. And I think you know better than us that it’s a 24/7 job.”
Ouellette said he appreciates Osgood’s management and leadership style.
“I think you are going to be a very good candidate for the department and for the city,” he said. “I really liked your thought process around truly partnering with other departments, and I think that will be very welcome here.”
In addition to his role as fire chief, the council voted unanimously to appoint Osgood’s director of emergency management, effective June 1.
The board also voted unanimously on Tuesday to hire Erin Gott as harbor master. Gott has already recently started working as an assistant harbor master.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s a lot of people, a lot of different moving parts. But I’m excited,” Gott said.
Ouellette said the city’s current acting fire chief, Edward Smith, and current harbor master, Fred Mayo, are retiring but will stay on to help with leadership transitions in their respective departments.