The town of Essex and village of Essex Jct. have named their next municipal manager.
Evan Teich, a 30-year municipal veteran who’s currently an interim village manager in Michigan, will take over February 26 for retiring manager Pat Scheidel, who, after planning to retire this April, is now moving up his exit date.
“Evan is a high caliber, professional manager who can bring fresh ideas and a wealth of experience to the job,” selectboard chairman Max Levy said in a news release.
Village president George Tyler pointed to Teich’s “thoughtful approach to local government and broad experience with forging collaborations,” both of which convinced the boards he was the right fit.
“Pat Scheidel is leaving some big shoes to fill,” Tyler said in the news release. “We knew we needed someone who could take the helm and quickly gain the trust of our department heads and staff.”
Teich, 51, is a Northern Illinois University graduate with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Illinois. He began his municipal career with a five-year stint as assistant to the manager in Vernon Hill, Ill. For the next 13 years, he served in manager or administrator roles across communities in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.
“My experience helps me ask some if not more of the right questions of the people who should and will help to know what we should be doing,” Teich said in a phone interview last Friday.
His hiring ends a five-month recruitment process that yielded 37 applicants. He was one of five candidates to attend three panel interviews December 1 and one of a trio to interview with the selectboard and trustees the following day.
The selectboard and trustees unanimously chose to extend an offer to Teich, setting in motion efforts to finalize a contract, which took nearly four weeks.
Teich said some of the biggest tasks during his first year will be meeting people in the community and learning the culture in the town and village.
“I’ve been in municipal government now for 30 years. I know enough of how certain things work, but I don’t know how Essex works,” he said. “The difference is: Everybody has roads, everybody has plow trucks, everybody has police or some form of it. But how does Essex do it? What is their plan?
“It’s going to take me a while to get to know its plans, its hopes and dreams and how I fit in to making those dreams a reality,” he added.
A major challenge will be learning how the town and the village interact amid ongoing consolidation efforts, with discussions of potential changes to their governance structures picking up steam.
Teich said while the scenario adds a layer of complexity to his job, he’s interested in the challenge.
“They’ve been at it a while and they want it, so at least their willing to work towards it,” he said of consolidation. “The challenge is to find out the last few pieces — how’s that going to work and let’s do it together.”
Teich’s initial visit last month him to drive around the community and served as his first real experience with Vermont, save a wedding he attended in “some corner” of the state, he said. He and his wife are now exploring housing in the area and will likely rent for at least the first year.