SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

June 7, 2014

Benton: A gem in the manager’s office

Plaudits are pouring in for Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis, who announced this week he will retire in the fall.

This reporter recalls Marquis’ appointment in 1979 when the then-assistant town manager was picked to succeed the formidable Bob Curtis, as the latter embarked on an early effort to promote a more regional approach to the problems and opportunities facing the North Shore. Many figured the soft-spoken, baby-faced former Town Hall intern would last only a couple of years in the post at best.

But while Marquis has had his share of critics over the four decades he has been at the helm, his hard work, sharp mind and unflappability have served him well. He has seen the town through tragedy (the Danversport explosion, last year’s killing of a teacher at the high school) and potential financial calamity and, today, is proudly touted by townspeople as a model municipal executive.

Every so often, complaints about his salary ($187,700 as of FY 2013) or refusal to bend on a particular issue caused one or more dissidents to run for the Board of Selectmen. Some got themselves elected, prompting rumors that Marquis might finally be run out of town.

But, inevitably, Marquis made converts of the skeptics, or else those with an ax to grind found themselves out of office. A majority of Danvers voters recognized the gem they had in the manager’s office, and it was their good fortune he was never tempted to move on to bigger and more lucrative opportunities that no doubt presented themselves over the years.

¢¢¢

School supporters in Ipswich contemplating another override effort ought to be wary of seeking that second bite of the apple.

The $2.75-million measure, while approved by Town Meeting, lost by 60 votes in the May 20 town election. Supporters are already talking about a do-over, but we can imagine their reaction had the override succeeded and opponents petitioned for a second vote.

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