2016-11-11 / Front Page

South Portland hires new city manager

By Wm. Duke Harrington
Staff Writer


South Portland’s new city manager, Edward Collins, chats with residents in a crowd of about 50 people who attended a Nov. 2 meet-and-greet session at the South Portland Community Center, attended by Collins and his chief rival for the position. (Duke Harrington photo) South Portland’s new city manager, Edward Collins, chats with residents in a crowd of about 50 people who attended a Nov. 2 meet-and-greet session at the South Portland Community Center, attended by Collins and his chief rival for the position. (Duke Harrington photo) SOUTH PORTLAND — After an extensive search process precipitated by the July departure of longtime city manager Jim Gailey, South Portland not has a new man at the helm at city hall.

At the Monday Nov. 7 city council meeting, Mayor Tom Blake announced the council had extended an offer to Lehi, Utah, resident Edward Collins.

A Maine native who recently inherited a home in South Portland, Collins has lived in Utah for the past two decades. Final details of Collins’ contract are still being worked out, said interim city manager Don Gerrish, who’s consulting firm, Portland-based Eaton Peabody, led the search process.

Gerrish said Collins is expected to start sometime after the first of the year at an annual salary of $115,000. Gailey made $121,000 per year on the job when he left to take the job of Cumberland County assistant manager.

“We had a thorough vetting process,” Blake said Tuesday, Nov. 8. “He really rose to the top. We liked the diversity of his background, his wisdom and patience, and the fact that he seemed really well versed in South Portland issues.”

According to Collins’ LinkedIn profile, he earned a bachelors degree in political science from the University of Maine in 1987 and went on to become town manager of Lubec immediately out of college. After a year in that job he went on to work as community development director in Calais, executive director of the Quoddy Region Job Opportunity Zone, and town manager of Baileyville. He then moved to Utah to become business service manager at the Redevelopment Agency of West Valley City, then administrator of the Lehi City Corp., a redevelopment and building authority.

Since 2006, Collins has been general manager of Civil Science, a Lehi-based engineering firm with offices in five states, handling administration, finance, human resources.”

Collins earned a masters degree in public administration from the University of Utah in 1998 and joined Civil Science in 2006.

He did not respond to a request for an interview.

According to Gerrish, there were 23 applicants for the city manager job, most of which came from out of state. Collins and his fellow finalist, James “Ty” Ross of Dalton, of Georgia, were in the city Nov. 2 and 3 for final interviews. Several councilors reached for comment said it was that final sit-down that put Collins over the top.

“Mr. Collins' second interview was very impressive,” said Councilor Eben Rose. “His answers were articulate and very specific. He certainly did his homework and, aside from his familiarity with Maine and South Portland he already possessed, he seemed to have a better grasp than the other candidates on the specific issues South Portland has faced recently and will be facing in the near term.”

“I think he is vey knowledgeable and very personable,” said Councilor Brad Fox. “I think he is exactly what South Portland needs. He’s very smart and wise. He has the experience and the insight from having worked as a city manager in a couple of places, but he’s also run a pretty successful civil engineering business, so I think he understands the interplay between city government and business, which I think is a very important thing for South Portland.

“But I think he’s people-orientated person, too,” Fox said. “I think he will be very trustworthy and transparent in the running of city business. I think everybody will feel confortable working with him.”

“I think he’s the right person in the right place at the right time for what we need,” said Councilor Patti Smith. “I think he will be a very calming influence. He definitely has a lot of great experience, but I think what came across pretty strongly in his interviews is that, while on the outset he may seem like a quite person, he is someone who is really thoughtful, and not prone to jump to conclusions. He’s someone who will take steps slowly, but in a steady way. We’ve been though a lot lately as a city and have big things that are still on the table and we can use someone who has a calm demeanor.”

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