SOMERSET — The Board of Selectmen has chosen Uxbridge Town Administrator Steven Sette as the new town administrator.
The position has been open since former Town Administrator Richard Brown retired in November. Michael Gallagher, who previously served as town administrator in North Attleboro, has been filling in on an interim basis.
On Friday, May 13, the selectmen interviewed four finalists for the position.
Sette served for the town council in Glocester, R.I. for 16 years, including four as president. He also served on their School Committee for two years and chaired their regional school committee, and still lives in the town.
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A look at Sette's experience
In 2009, after a career in pharmaceutical sales, he became the first ever town manager in Richmond, R.I.
“I built the job from the ground up,” he said.
During his three years there, he hired a new police chief and worked with him to navigate a flood, a hurricane, a blizzard and multiple power outages, gaining emergency management experience that he said would be useful in a coastal town like Somerset.
He then served as town administrator for Hopedale, Mass., for more than seven years before being hired in Uxbridge, where he is now. In Uxbridge, he has helped establish the town’s favorable bond rating and encouraged economic development, helping them navigate being one of the first communities in the state to welcome in the cannabis industry, he said.
He said he typically combs through proposed town budgets to see if past department budgets are being spent, so they’re not funding things simply because they’ve always been funded to that level.
“My budgets are based on need, not on wants,” he said. “We did a pretty good job of controlling expenses with COVID.”
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After the interviews, Chair of the Board of Selectmen Allen Smith said he liked Sette’s experience with economic development and particularly admired a highly detailed town budget he found on the Uxbridge town website.
“I looked at that and said, ‘that’s where we need to get,’ from the town of Somerset’s standpoint, to have everything single line broken down, very detailed, so that it’s not just personnel and expenses,” he said.
He also said he liked that Sette would be coming from a smaller town than Somerset, someone from a larger community might be used to having more resources around things like staffing, such as a full-time HR department.
“Someone from a small community in used to having to utilize and work with the resources you have,” he said.
Not a unanimous vote
Selectmen Jacob Vaught argued that they should hire former Bourne Town Administrator Thomas Guerino, saying he was more qualified and comparing Bourne’s profile as an affluent coastal community to Somerset’s.
The board voted two to one to hire Sette, with Vaught voting no.
Sette will be hired after passing a background check and negotiating a contract with the town.
Audrey Cooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Somerset selectmen choose town administrator Steven Sette of Uxbridge