By Brenda Crowell

Staff Reporter

During an April 7 meeting, Upton’s Board of Selectmen interviewed three candidates for Town Manager after the Town Manager Search Committee whittled down 21 applicants to the finalists. Following the interviews, the Board voted unanimously to offer the Town Manager position to Littleton Assistant Town Administrator Joseph Laydon.

“It just feels like he’s authentic, what you see is what you get,” said Selectman Brett Simas. “He’s got the experience. He’s done a lot in Littleton. He’s got planning experience. He’s got local experience. He understands Blackstone Valley. He clearly understands people and process and technology.”

The other candidates interviewed were Wenham Town Administrator Ryan Ferrara and Dover Assistant Town Administrator Katelyn O’Brien.

Board of Selectman Chair Maureen Dwinnell said that she would also rank Laydon in the top position. Selectman Stephen Matellian gave a slight edge to Ferrara but that it was very close.

Upton Town Clerk Kelly McElreath was also considered along with the final three candidates identified by the search committee.

“We’re sitting in the building that she played a key role in developing, all the work that she’s done in the town, all the behind-the-scenes work with what she’s done for all the town meetings,” Simas said. “Clearly she’s got something.”

Laydon, who was hired as Littleton’s Assistant Town Administrator in January 2020 and also served that town as Interim Town Administrator in the same year, was employed by the town of Grafton from February 2014 through January 2020 as Community Development Director and Town Planner.

He was also Millville’s part-time Town Planner from 2007 through 2016, and full-time Town Planner for Weston (2010-2014), Stoughton (2009-2010), and Wayland (2000-2009).

During his interview, Laydon noted that his communication skills will be a key factor in his role as Town Manager.

“I have a lot of experience supporting boards and communicating, so I have a good history as far as trying to maintain communication and keep board members updated,” say Laydon.

Laydon, who lives in Whitinsville, was the Land Use and Transportation Planner for the Northwest Regional Planning Commission from 1997-2000.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Science, Technology, and Society from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a Master of Professional Studies degree in Regional Planning from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Matellian praised the Selection Committee, saying, “I feel that we have followed the game plan that has been outlined, and I have respect for the work that was already done.”

The Board of Selectmen’s offer to Laydon is contingent upon a background check and successful contract negotiations.

With the departure of former Town Manager Derek Brindisi, Upton Director of Public Works Dennis Westgate will serve as Interim Town Manager until Laydon officially takes over. Per the Board of Selectmen meeting on March 31, Westgate is expected to work 10 hours a week in his capacity as Interim Town Manager, with a maximum commitment of 15 hours per week, at an hourly rate of $62.87.