Brattleboro appoints Colorado public land administrator as town manager

Brattleboro’s Municipal Center stands at the end of downtown’s Main Street. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger
John R. Potter will be Brattleboro’s new town manager. Photo courtesy of John Potter

BRATTLEBORO — Local leaders have hired a Colorado public land administrator to succeed former Town Manager Octavian “Yoshi” Manale, who resigned in May after only five months on the job.

John R. Potter, deputy director of the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department, will start Dec. 30, the Brattleboro Selectboard announced Tuesday night.

“We are confident that John Potter has an enthusiasm for good governance and for Brattleboro that he will bring to his new role,” board Chair Ian Goodnow said.

Potter, who has worked in his Colorado post since 2016, has focused his career on management of public lands, facilities and services.

Originally from Massachusetts, Potter earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College and a master’s degree in forest management from Yale University.

Potter has served as land superintendent for the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission, director of land management for the City of New York Department of Environmental Protection, assistant director of operations for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and senior policy adviser for the Oregon Department of State Lands.

In a statement, Potter said he and his wife, Marie Elena, were eager to return to New England.

“Brattleboro’s reputation as a thoughtful and progressive community drew us to this special place,” he said. “I really appreciate the Selectboard offering me an opportunity to serve … and look forward to earning the trust of the town.”

The selectboard will publicly introduce Potter when it approves his yet-to-be-disclosed contract next Tuesday.

Potter’s hiring comes half a year after Manale left after only five months on the job, taking with him a $70,000 severance package.

The former New Jersey administrator, who started in Brattleboro in January, abruptly submitted his resignation May 20 after weeks of public criticism over his recommendation that the municipality pull out of a contract with its nearly 60-year EMS provider, the private nonprofit Rescue Inc., with little notice or public debate.

“Recognizing that the employment relationship was not working to each party’s expectations, Manale has tendered his letter of resignation and Brattleboro has accepted the letter of resignation,” the selectboard wrote in his severance agreement.

Manale’s $120,000 annual contract didn’t allow him to receive such a package if he left of his own volition, but instead only if he was “terminated without just cause” or “if the employee resigns following a written or oral offer to accept resignation from a majority of the governing body.”

The selectboard on Tuesday thanked Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland and Human Resources Director Sally Cruz Nix for their help with Potter’s hiring.

“They sat in on the process and provided insight and guidance to us this time around, which was very helpful and different from last time,” board member Jessica Gelter said. “I think it will lead to some great outcomes.”

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Kevin O'Connor

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