Media Day held for n ew town manager

Bedford’s meeting room was filled with laughter and discussion Aug. 15 as Town Manager Jessie Levine performed her first duty for the town – a press conference

Questions varied from what is the most difficult challenge as town manager to her favorite author (Steinbeck).

“The council and I thought it would be a good idea to introduce Jessie to the press because they will be working together in the near future,” Town Council Chairman Bill Dermody said.

“I want the people of Bedford to know that I am very accessible,” Levine said.

On July 27, the Bedford Town Council announced its selection of Levine to serve as Bedford’s next town manager.

Earlier this year, the council independently pursued the search for a new town manager, but at the last minute, a possible candidate backed out. In March, the council hired Municipal Resources Inc., a government employment agency, to come up with six qualifying candidates for the position.

In June, the Town Council discussed the possibility of amending the charter to adjust the town residency requirement from six to 18 months.

“The residency requirement shouldn’t be a problem for me, because I do not have a family,” Levine said in an earlier interview. “I do not have to face the same challenges that other people with a family have, so I’m anticipating an easier move. I think I have a little more flexibility.”

“The fact that she will live in Bedford is very important,” Councilor Ken Peterson said. “If you’re going to raise taxes you’re going to be raising your own. You go to the local stores, read the local papers and are actively involved in the town.”

Levine listed the budget and property taxes as the biggest challenges she will have to tackle.

“I think that’s the No. 1 issue on any town manager’s mind in New Hampshire right now,” Levine said.

But how will she prioritize the necessary cuts to make from the budget?

“I need to figure out if there are sacrifices that need to be made. I need to evaluate. I like to talk. I’m very social, and I also like to write,” Levine said. “I’m open to the idea of writing a weekly newsletter.”

Levine also said she plans to work with the former acting town manager, Crystal Dionne, to help catch her up to speed with Bedford’s issues.

“I think looking at the success of the past town managers in Bedford and the economic growth that has occurred in Bedford over the past years are both signs that Bedford has a lot going on,” Levine said. “I know I’ll be beating a path to Crystal Dionne’s door; she has a lot of knowledge that I think the different department heads of Bedford can count on.”

How will Levine plan to build professional relationships with Bedford residents despite political and social disagreements?

“I plan to be accessible, approachable and honest. If someone has a disagreement with me, we can handle it when the time comes,” Levine said. “I love a good challenge, and I love to be busy. My goal is to help the department heads, and I’m looking forward to working hard and being part of the solution.”

Levine is the assistant town manager and human resources director for Hanover. She will take over the town manager position Sept. 4.