By Shannon Golden
BU News Service
The Cambridge City Council unanimously voted to appoint longtime city employee and community leader Louis DePasquale as city manager Thursday night.
The process lasted about six months and began with a pool of 55 applicants. The position was held by Richard C. Rossi for the past 45 years. Ross is retiring from the job.
The city manager acts as the chief executive officer of Cambridge with the responsibility of enforcing all laws, appointing department heads and city board members, as well as submitting the annual budget to the City Council.
“This was an extremely thorough process,” Councilman Leland Cheung said. “We hired one of the best consulting firms in the country.”
The consulting firm narrowed the search down to three candidates to be voted on by the City Council. A day before the vote, Massachusetts Housing and Development Secretary Jay Ash withdrew his name from consideration.
This left Louis DePasquale and Paul Featherston as the two finalists going into the vote. DePasquale is a life-long resident of Cambridge who started working for the city in 1970. He currently serves as the assistant city manager for fiscal affairs. Featherston is the assistant city manager of Asheville, N.C., and had previously worked as deputy city manager in Boulder, Colo.
Once discussion opened for the councilmen to give their comments, there was no doubt that DePasquale would be appointed City Manager.
“He has very much impressed me during the various interview processes,” Councilman Craig Kelley said. “He gets finances like no one else does which is very important.”
It was not only DePasquale’s skills and expertise that convinced the council but also his commitment to Cambridge.
“He has that vision, he’s been in the community for so many years, he’s been involved with Babe Ruth and Little League,” Councilman Timothy Toomey said describing DePasquale. “I can attest to his great character and his commitment to the city. He’s out in the community on almost a daily basis. He’s listening to people and learning from people.”
The City Council agreed that DePasquale had the vision to move Cambridge forward because he truly loved the city and its’ people.
Although there was a unanimous vote for the position, some councilmen did not agree with the selection process.
“I don’t think we appropriated enough money for the search,” Councilman Nadeem Mazen explained. “We could have gotten excited candidates from across the country if we spent the time and money.”
Mazen was not alone in feeling this way. Councilwoman Jan Devereux expressed frustration with the selection process, as well.
“The process that we put in place has failed to essentially yield us a candidate that we can trust with these big opportunities,” Devereux said.
Although Mazen and Devereux were not confident in the selection process, they were confident in their support of DePasquale against Featherston.
“I like his open-door, I like his gracious spirits,” Mazen said. “He seems like one of Cambridge’s kids, someone who is excited by the job.”
Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons also threw her support behind DePasquale.
“I’m committed to working with out next city manager to get where we need to be,” Simmons said, “and this evening I will be voting for Louis DePasquale.”
After the council voted for DePasquale, the councilors voted to place Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson as acting city manager until Louis DePasquale is officially appointed to the position.