Montague looks to promote assistant to town administrator role

Montague Selectboard members have expressed confidence in promoting Assistant Town Administrator Walter Ramsey, pictured, to the role of town administrator when Steve Ellis steps down in June.

Montague Selectboard members have expressed confidence in promoting Assistant Town Administrator Walter Ramsey, pictured, to the role of town administrator when Steve Ellis steps down in June. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

By MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer

Published: 12-05-2023 11:56 AM

MONTAGUE — Town officials are looking internally to fill the shoes of Town Administrator Steve Ellis, who plans to step down from the position at the end of June following more than seven years in the role.

In particular, Selectboard members have expressed confidence in promoting Assistant Town Administrator Walter Ramsey to the role.

“I personally think you’ve done an awesome job,” Chair Rich Kuklewicz told Ramsey on Monday evening. “You’ve moved into the role of assistant town administrator with great professionalism and I hear nothing but compliments from the members of staff you work with. For me ... what we need to do is talk about finding a new assistant town administrator, because I think we have a town administrator sitting right here who has been working toward this goal.”

Ramsey, who has worked with the town for 13 years in various capacities, said he was both interested and “committed to succeeding Steve Ellis.”

“I know they’re big shoes to fill but I can say with confidence I’m prepared to move into the post,” he said.

Before serving as Ellis’ assistant, Ramsey served as the town planner.

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The conversation between members of the Selectboard Monday evening followed Ellis’ announcement in November that he intends to step down from his position on June 30. Ellis, 57, was appointed to his position in December 2016 following the retirement of his predecessor, Frank Abbondanzio.

Ellis emphasized it is “entirely within the board’s authority” to hire internally. He said he is pleased to hear the Selectboard’s interest in Ramsey as his successor.

“I think it’s going to allow us to have a much more efficient, orderly and productive transition,” Ellis said. “It’s going to ensure work gets done better.”

Selectboard member Matthew Lord agreed with his colleagues.

“I think we would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than Walter,” he said. “Since I came to town and got involved, I’ve been working with Walter — first on the Planning Board as a member there and here on the Selectboard as well. I’ve been impressed with his work consistently. I believe he’d be a very good town administrator.”

Kuklewicz said the next step will be for Ramsey and Ellis to come up with a plan for an assistant town administrator search. In particular, Kuklewicz would like for the two to consider what strengths should be considered in a new assistant.

“They’re not going to be the same [strengths] we were looking for when we were looking for someone to assist Steve,” he said.

At a future meeting — likely on Dec. 18 — the Selectboard plans to discuss the potential makeup of an assistant town administrator search committee. Kuklewicz expects the hiring process will take a few months.

No votes were taken on Monday, but Kuklewicz said a more formal motion could be made later this month relating to Ramsey’s appointment.

“Walter knows the town and he knows the community,” Kuklewicz said. “I think it’s the right thing for the town.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.