Select Board elects Ziomek as interim town manager

By Brendan Deady

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
(Collegian File Photo)

The Amherst Select Board elected an interim town manager to replace John Musante, the former town manager who died suddenly on Sunday.

Four members voted to instate David Ziomek as the interim town manager, the top executive position in Amherst’s government, at an emergency Select Board meeting last night. Ziomek was the assistant town manager for Musante and is the director of conservation and development.

After the meeting, Select Board Chairwoman Alisa Brewer said that how long Ziomek will be interim town manager and any future process related to hiring a new town manager were not a topic for consideration so soon after Musante’s death, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Deborah Papel, the new acting assistant town manager, said that the community response has been heartwarming.

“People all over town have reached out to our officials offering condolences. It shows just how much of an impact John (Musante) had on this town,” Papel said.

Ziomek also told the Gazette that Musante was very excited for two new projects on the horizon. Musante was involved with bringing a solar project to a capped landfill on Belchertown Road and getting a community health program into the Bangs Center.

Ziomek added that the Select Board would continue Musante’s vision for the town.

The Select Board recently voted to grant Musante a pay increase in August as a result of his strong performance as town manager, according to the board’s website.

The board conducts an annual performance review of the town manager to gauge a person’s effectiveness at the position. Musante received strong marks in every category of evaluation, especially long-range planning, fiscal management and general expectations.

In the wake of Musante’s death, many of his colleagues have commended him for his fiscal management skills and dedication to his community.

Musante became the town’s finance director in 2004 and was one of three finalists for the manager’s position in 2006. Before working in Amherst, Musante was the finance director in Northampton and the budget director and chief of staff in New Bedford. He also previously worked as the town manager in Lenox.

Paramedics were called to Musante’s home Sunday morning where he was found unresponsive. The results of a medical examiner report to determine the cause of death are still pending. Musante, who was a husband and father, died at age 53.

Brendan Deady can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @bdeady2.