SOUTHWEST HARBOR — After searching for six months, town officials thought they had found the right candidate to be the next town manager in Mike Patterson. Less than a week after accepting the position, he has withdrawn.
“Mike Patterson has withdrawn his name and released the town from his contract,” said Don Gerrish, a municipal consultant with Eaton Peabody who is leading the town’s search for a new manager, in a message to the Islander.
On Aug. 31, two days before Patterson was unanimously chosen by the Southwest Harbor Select Board to be the town’s next manager, he was unanimously fired by the city council in Florence, Colo., where he served as manager for nearly 10 years. According to a report in the Fremont County Crusader, a newspaper in Colorado, the council made the decision after a two-hour executive session to terminate Patterson effective immediately and ban him from city property.
Last week, in a special Select Board meeting, Patterson agreed to accept the town’s offer to hire him with a three-year contract at $115,000 per year. On Tuesday, the Select Board met again in a special meeting and learned that Patterson had withdrawn from the position via email. He was scheduled to start on Oct. 4.
“We have had negotiations with him for over two or three months,” said Gerrish in a previous conversation with the Islander.
The town will begin advertising once again for a new town manager this week, Gerrish said on Tuesday.
One of six candidates, Patterson was chosen from a national pool of applicants for the town manager position. Dana Reed has been serving as interim town manager since February after the Select Board voted 3 -2 to fire Justin VanDongen. VanDongen was four months shy of completing his three-year contract with the town.
Officials in Florence have not released information about why Patterson was fired, according to an article in the Canon City Daily Record, a newspaper in Colorado.
When the Islander called Florence City Hall to learn the cause of Patterson’s termination, Finance Director Lori Cobler said, “We have no comment at this time.”
Gerrish said there was a background and criminal check conducted on Patterson, as is the case with any candidate for the position.
“In the criminal check, there were issues,” he said. “They were issues that were taken care of… Managers make mistakes like everybody else.”
According to a press release from the town, Patterson is familiar with Southwest Harbor because he visited several times when his daughter’s family was stationed at the Coast Guard base. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Eastern Washington University and a bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University. Before his stint in Florence, Colo., Patterson was the city manager in Redmond, Ore., for four years.
He resigned from that job in December of 2008 after being arrested in November and later charged with fourth-degree assault, according to an article in The Bulletin, a newspaper based in Bend, Ore. Patterson pleaded guilty to the charges and was part of a domestic violence deferred sentencing program, but he did not complete it. He was then sentenced to three years of probation, which, if completed, would reduce his charge to a misdemeanor. It is not clear if that happened.