Citing a lack of vision and an unclear direction of how to move the town forward, the Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 last night not to renew the contract of Town Manager Julian Suso.
Each member of the board was quick to point out the integrity, high moral standards and ethical management that characterized Suso’s five-year tenure as town manager, but in the end the Selectmen could not reconcile their expectations with Suso’s accomplishments.
“I don’t see Mr. Suso’s vision as my vision of what I want for Framingham,” said Selectman Jason Smith, who was a member of the search team that recommended Suso be named Town Manager in 2006. “The board’s vision of where Framingham should be is going in a different direction (than Suso’s vision).”
In a prepared statement, Suso said, “I acknowledge and respect the decision of the majority of the board. I am proud of my accomplishments and I believe I will leave town government in a better place.”
In the time he has remaining as Framingham’s Town Manager, Suso pledged that he “will continue my work as a professional to move Framingham forward.” Suso’s contract expires on June 30.
“He did a tremendous job with bettering relations with Framingham State University. That’s a testament to Mr. Suso’s strengths,” said Smith. “But projects took too long to accomplish.”
“Five years ago, we got a true gentleman of high morals and integrity. A really nice guy,” said Selectman Charles Sisitsky. But the leadership skills that the Selectmen expected, “never materialized,” Sisitsky continued. “We’ve seen a settling into a reactive mode, not proactive. We need a person with vision for Framingham to progress.”
Selectman Laurie Lee concurred with Smith and Sisitsky. “You’ve done wonderful things for the town to move us forward,” she said, addressing Suso directly. “But we need a change.”
Selectman Ginger Esty was the only member of the board that supported Suso. “We have had some very difficult years,” she said. “He was given jobs and he accomplished them. He had jobs added and he accomplished them. I hope we don’t go backwards.”
Each of the Selectmen acknowledged that the decision they were making was difficult.
The motion not to renew Suso’s contract was made by Smith and it remained unresolved for a good minute as Selectman chairman Dennis Giombetti looked from one Selectman to another seeking a second.
Finally, Sisitsky said, “With great reluctance, I second the motion.”
Suso left the Ablondi Room quickly after the meeting was adjourned and was not available for comment.
After the meeting, Giombetti said that Selectmen will begin the process of searching for another town manager in the coming weeks.
Updated at 11 p.m.