One on One with…New Naples Town Manager John Hawley

Naples Town Manager John Hawley

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES – John Hawley is at the point in time that he is still being introduced to Naples residents. After all, he has been sitting in the audience during the Naples Board of Selectmen’s meetings. He looks like any other community member who is following municipal politics by showing up in person.

Soon enough – on Feb. 26 to be precise, Hawley will join the selectmen at the table. With or without a name plaque in front of him, people will come to recognize Hawley as Naples’ fulltime town manager.

In his hometown of Mechanic Falls, Hawley is a man who needs no introductions.

He has been a part of that community for decades – having his place of employment and home in one place. His past and present is intertwined with the town of Mechanic Falls – a place where he has held top administrative jobs.

His future in Naples – he said that is dictated by the wishes of the board of selectmen. Hawley said he is looking forward to serving Naples and he is not questioning his choice to return to municipal government.

BN: Could you please provide your employment history?

JH: October 2015 – present, employed with RSU 16 in Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland as the Director of Operations. I oversee facilities and grounds, transportation, food service, health and safety and am the Affirmative Action Officer and Title 9 Compliance Officer.

September 2009 – present, Adjunct Instructor at Central Maine Community College in the Business Department. I instruct courses in computer applications, accounting, business management and administration.

January 2006 – October 2015 – Town Manager, Treasurer, and Road Commissioner of Mechanic Falls

December 1990 – December 2008 – Firefighter / EMT at Mechanic Falls Fire and Rescue. Served in the positions of dispatcher, instructor, fire inspector and retired as deputy fire chief.

January 2003 – January 2006 – Assistant Town Manager and Code Enforcement Officer

September 1998 – January 2003 – Code Enforcement Officer and Health and Safety Officer

July 1997 – May 2016, Chief Emergency Medical Dispatcher/EMT for United Ambulance in Lewiston

BN: What made you decide to apply for the Naples Town Manager position when you heard about it?

JH: I had received word from a municipal colleague that suggested Naples might be a good fit if I had ever considered returning to municipal administration. My experience had been with small town government and I knew from that experience that larger communities would not be for me. I like retaining a direct personal connection with the community in smaller towns that is often lost with large town government. Naples offers that and seemed like it would be a good opportunity for me.

BN: What are the top three skills or qualities that you anticipate will “come in handy” as the Naples Town Manager?

JH: My previous experience has allowed me to be exposed to many aspects of public service and I have a pretty comprehensive understanding of how municipalities operate.

I am a very patient person and am willing to take the time to listen to people. Contrary to popular belief, municipal governments are not the answer for all problems but that doesn’t exempt us from hearing the issue. Municipal officials can serve to be a complaint department but they can’t fix everything. I like trying to seek solutions for people who might have issues that can’t be resolved at the town office level.

I believe I am a good communicator and have the ability to explain why things are done the way that they are. Many people don’t have a lot of trust in their local leaders and I can understand why. A handful of government officials who are vague, deceitful and unethical cast a shadow over all of us. I am not one of those people. I have no hidden agenda. I am just an employee of the town with a job to do. I have always been and will continue to be honest and transparent. It is important to me that people have access to and know all the facts.

BN: As far as code enforcement goes, can you identify some specific problems and solutions for the Town of Naples? For example are there state building code or state shoreland code that needs to be brought up to standard?

JH: I am not able to adequately respond to this question at this time. I have not had an opportunity to establish goals with the Board of Selectmen. Reviewing all municipal service needs will be something for me to look at once I am in office but I will need to receive my priorities from the board of selectmen.

BN: Following the interview process, which was conducted by the Naples Board of Selectmen, what do you think are the highest priority issues in Naples?

JH: During the interview process, the selectmen were very open with what they perceive to be areas that will need attention in the community. They wanted to be sure that I knew what I was getting into. For the record, there were no earth-shattering issues. But like I stated previously, the priorities have not been established by the board. That will take place not long after I begin.

BN: You are starting this job at the same time that the budget-process is happening. What might be some the pros and cons of that being one of your first tasks?

JH: Fortunately, a pro is that budgeting is not that dissimilar from one community to the next. Coming into a process that has already begun will certainly require me to do some catching up but from what I have learned so far, Naples seems to have a pretty good handle on their budget. I will still have access to both the previous town manager and the current interim. Both have committed to helping get through the first budget until I am more familiar. I don’t really see any cons with coming late to the table.

BN: Speaking of 1st tasks – what do you consider to be the necessities and the priorities during the first six months (Feb – Aug.) of your job?

JH: First priorities will be learning all that I can about the community, its public services and businesses. I will need to establish relationships with the staff and various boards and committees. It will then be very necessary to look at policies and procedures, finances and receive direction from the Board of Selectmen. Not having the advantage of being from the area, I will need some time just to acclimate with my new surroundings.

BN: Please could you tell our readers about the first time you visited Naples or whatever experiences you’ve had w/ friends and family enjoying leisure time in Naples?

JH: Although not from the area, Naples is not foreign to me. I cannot remember my first time, but my family and friends have frequented Naples both for dining and entertainment as well as the outdoor offerings. I have always admired the causeway area, especially after the rehabilitation. Naples is a beautiful community that has a lot to offer.

BN: It is your turn – please choose a question you would like to answer?

JH: I grew up in Mechanic Falls attending Elm Street School, went on to high school at Edward Little in Auburn. I have an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and Management from Central Maine Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Southern New Hampshire University.

I am looking forward to getting started. I have met with the Select Board, met the town office staff and some of the budget committee members. Everyone has been very welcoming and I hope that people will view me as a worthy selection for Naples. I haven’t learned anything about Naples at this point that would cause me to rethink my return to municipal government. I left a great community (Mechanic Falls) in which I had vast love and appreciation for. I grew up there and worked for the town for a very long time. I had reached a point where I just knew it was time to move on to something new.

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