NORTH STONINGTON — In a complex and changing post-pandemic world, filling critical roles for local leaders with qualified candidates has become an increasingly difficult challenge. Fortuitous circumstances may have helped provide the town with the right pieces of the puzzle to move forward with a small, cohesive team.
North Stonington City Hall's small team of 12 employees hired former Stonington Economic and Community Development Director Susan Cullen as its new city planner three weeks ago, and recently hired former Stonington Economic and Community Development Director Susan Cullen as a finance and human resources specialist. We are planning to hire Laura Brown, who has a good reputation. She became the Mohegan Sun's new director of administration and finance, effective February 20.
First Selectman Robert Carlson said this week that the two bring a wealth of experience and knowledge, much needed to a staff that has worn multiple hats almost seamlessly in the absence of two of the town's key posts. He said he would provide relief.
“We've done a lot to get them to join this group and fill those roles while they're gone. I would bring this group to anyone in our region of the state. “It's going to be against us,” Carlson said. “Not many people these days grow up wanting to be financial managers or city planners, so he was very fortunate to have the opportunity to hire both of them.”
Carlson praised the efforts of other employees who have not filled these two roles over the past several months, adding that many employees have provided valuable service to the community for many years.
“The organizational knowledge that they bring to their daily work is amazing,” he said. “So many residents told us they appreciated coming to City Hall to be treated with respect and have their questions answered in a courteous manner.”
The additional support comes to the town as other communities in the region continue to struggle to play their part. Members of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, many of whom often share resources, have recently presented a different set of challenges.
The areas of Ledyard, Preston, Lisbon and Bozrah have had to urgently find building inspectors in recent months after a building shared by the four towns collapsed and injured people. The position remains vacant.
Across the border in Rhode Island, towns have struggled to fill their own city planner positions for the past two years. Hopkinton joined the group in October after Interim City Planner Michael Spellman resigned while he was running for Stonington's first-choice seat. They maintain their contractual status, but the full-time role remains vacant.
But while North Stonington can't necessarily offer the highest pay, it can offer something other areas can't: a small, family-like work environment with close social interaction, Carlson said. said. Interaction and independent working conditions.
“I like to joke with people that the secret is to eat a lot of cake,” Carlson said with a smile. “Birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions. It's a way to make people feel appreciated for what they do.”
Karen and Brown are each local residents in their 50s whose husbands are preparing for a life beyond law enforcement, and each comes to town with established municipal experience.
Karen has worked in a variety of municipal roles for over 25 years, including the past four years as Director of Economic and Community Development for the City of Stonington. She is a Pawcatuck resident.
First Selectman Daniel Chebrough previously announced that Cullen was a key member of the team and recently received a federal He said he helped secure a $200,000 government brownfield grant. The town was one of 15 in Connecticut to receive such a grant.
Carlson said she came highly recommended and said the opportunity came out of the blue as Cullen recently informed her that her contract would not be renewed as Stonington looks to cut spending.
“The circumstances were right and I believe it will be in our interest,” he said.
Brown also brings his own 10 years of experience in city government, having worked in Westerly before moving to Mohegan Sun, Carlson said. She has served in various roles in Mohegan Sun's finance department for the past 18 years and is also a resident of Mystic.
Carlson said she's already looking for the ingredients to get off the ground and believes she can hit the ground running quickly with a start later this month.
“When I became a new first-round pick a little over two years ago, I don’t know how I would have done without this veteran crew,” Carlson said. “With the addition of Susan and Laura, we feel our team once again has experienced employees in every position.”