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Guest column by Jerry Henderson: Response to Grout's column

  • Written by Jerry Henderson

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the recent guest column submitted by Mr. Grout. I am writing as an individual and any statements made here are my own and are not be construed to represent anyone other than myself.

As Mr. Grout mentioned, I was appointed by the remaining commissioners to fill an empty, unexpired term. I applied to be appointed for the same reason I decided to run for the full term. This island is my home and I consider our Fire Department to be part of my extended family. If I can be of service to both, I consider that a good thing. I don’t know why the decision was made to select me over the other two applicants but I am happy to serve now and hope to continue after the election.

Mr. Grout states that the Fire Commissioners have decided “to do everything except make the actual appointment of the next chief before the November election” and that I am the person pushing this the most. That is incorrect. I have been advocating for a review of the current job description and to get the opening posted in major publications now while we have the gift of time before the current chief is gone. Additionally, the commissioners outlined the hiring process and proposed timing in the most recent public meeting.

Although I have not hired a public official, I do have extensive experience hiring trained professionals and I know how tight the job market is everywhere right now. When you add to that the highly specialized profession of Fire Chief and the challenges candidates would potentially face moving here, it becomes increasingly difficult.

In order to allow for the best candidate pool, and the least disruption to the agency it is important that we proceed with these first steps in in accordance with the current approved department policy without delay.  With a mere six weeks before the election the robust screening  / hiring process the commissioners laid out does not allow for even first interviews prior to the full term commissioner being installed.

That said I believe getting the word out to possible candidates as quickly as possible will allow the board to receive the most qualified candidates. This in turn will allow for a more informed and timely decision to best serve our community.

I am committed to a transparent hiring process. My concern is, and always will be, only what is best for the community and the agency that I spent so much of my limited leisure time working with.

I invite all citizens to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns. I am happy to discuss, confer and consider all feedback.

Thank you for your time.

Jerry Henderson