The recently hired candidate for the town manager position in Southwest Harbor has rescinded his acceptance.
Don Gerrish, the Eaton Peabody consultant who has been hired to help the town find and hire a new town manager, said Thursday that Michael Patterson contacted him earlier this week to withdraw his acceptance of the town’s job offer. Gerrish said Patterson, a former city manager in Florence, Colorado, and Redmond, Oregon, did not say why he was backing out of taking the job.
Patterson was recently fired from his town manager position in Colorado.
The Canon City Daily Journal newspaper in Colorado reported last week that Patterson was fired Aug. 31 from his job as city manager of Florence, but it said officials there declined to say why. News broke locally in the Quietside Journal in Colorado about a prior conviction for assault last week.
In Maine, Gerrish said he and the town selectboard knew about Patterson’s past involvement in the criminal court system, which occurred prior to his job in Colorado.
In 2008, Patterson pleaded guilty in Oregon to assaulting his wife twice that year, while he was employed as Redmond’s city manager, according to a report by the Oregonian. He was ordered to undergo 18 months of counseling and, if he completed it successfully, the charges were to be dropped, the Oregon newspaper reported.
It was not clear Thursday if Patterson successfully completed the program, but The Bulletin newspaper of Bend, Oregon, reported in 2011 that Patterson was “granted early release” from probation in December 2010. City officials in Florence where Patterson worked from early 2012, knew of Patterson’s past legal problems, the Bulletin reported.
Chad Terry, a member of the Southwest Harbor select board, did not return a message Thursday seeking comment.
Gerrish said that Southwest Harbor received six applicants for the vacant town manager position after the board terminated the previous town manager, Justin VanDongen, in January. He said that the town has decided to offer higher pay for the position, with a salary range from $85,000 to $115,000, and hopes to get new applicants for the post when it readvertises the position.
“We didn’t get a whole lot of applications,” Gerrish said, adding that it has become increasingly difficult to find good candidates for town manager vacancies. “It’s a tough market out there. It’s been going on for the past five years.”
Dana Reed, a former longtime town manager in Bar Harbor who is serving as interim town manager, also confirmed Thursday that Patterson has withdrawn from the job offer but said he did not know why. He said his contract with Southwest Harbor was due to expire in August, but he told the board he is willing to stay on a little longer while the town renews its town manager search.
“I said I would stick around for a while,” Reed said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story cited incorrect information posted on the town’s website about Chad Terry’s position on the select board.