By William Kelly Daily News Staff Writer Posted: 12:09 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14, 2014
The Town Council unanimously voted Thursday to name Tom Bradford as successor to Town Manager Peter Elwell when Elwell retires on Jan. 9.
Bradford has been deputy town manager for nearly 10 years and was assistant town manager for about five years before that. He was the town’s acting town manager for a few months in 2000 after Bob Doney left for health reasons. He was the village manager of Tequesta for 14 years before joining the town’s senior management team in 2000.
Elwell announced Oct. 24 that he is leaving after 14 years as town manager to become town manager of Brattleboro, Vt., his hometown. Council members and Mayor Gail Coniglio said they preferred naming Elwell’s replacement from within, instead of conducting a nationwide search.
The council and Coniglio said they want Bradford to name Recreation Director Jay Boodheshwar to fill the post of deputy town manager. Bradford said he intends to do so.
Coniglio called for Bradford and Boodheshwar to lead the town as a “dynamic team … in the interest of continuity and to benefit from their hands-on knowledge of the town.”
Council President Robert Wildrick said he spoke with most members of the town’s senior staff about the leadership change, and all of them asked that Bradford be considered for the post, for continuity and because he is trusted. “That’s a pretty great endorsement,” Wildrick said.
Bradford told the council it will be an honor and privilege to serve as the town’s administrative chief.
“I want you all to know I work for you, and you alone …,” he said. “I believe in treating people with fairness and dignity. I have always sought to be truthful with all of the people I work with, and I plan to continue to do that.”
Bradford praised the town’s senior management staff. “This team was able to survive through the Great Recession and reduce expenditures without any notable reduction in services,” he said.
Councilwoman Penny Townsend noted that Bradford was vetted through a national search for town manager candidates in 2000. That search boiled down to two finalists – Bradford, who was then acting manager, and Elwell, a former assistant town manager in Palm Beach who had left in 1999 to become manager of Roxbury Township, N.J.
The council chose Elwell by a vote of 3-2, and he started the job in February 2001. The council gave Bradford a $10,000 bonus and a $9,000 raise to encourage him to stay on in the number 2 post.
As deputy town manager, Bradford has administered the burial of utilities on a neighborhood basis and led research and planning for an eventual town-wide burial of utilities. He also oversaw the restoration of Worth Avenue. His daily management responsibilities have included risk management and information systems.
Elwell said after the meeting that he was delighted with the council’s decision.
“The breadth of his experience both here and in Tequesta has always given me a great level of comfort that the town would be in good hands when my time here was done,” Elwell said.
Earlier at Thursday’s meeting, Coniglio honored Elwell by proclaiming Dec. 12 Peter B. Elwell Day in Palm Beach.
Boodheshwar joined the town as recreation director in 2006. In 2010, his duties were expanded to include director of special projects. He led planning for the town’s centennial celebration in 2011, has served as emergency management director, and strengthened town procurement policies following the Steven White corruption scandal. White is a former town construction manager sentenced to 42 months in prison after admitting he took kickbacks in exchange for helping secure work for two construction firms.
Boodheshwar said later Thursday that he was honored by the confidence placed in him by the council, Coniglio and Bradford.
“This is a challenge that I really just accept with open arms,” he said. “I can’t wait to work with Tom. We’ll make a great team.”
Bradford earned a master’s degree in public administration in 1980 and a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1977 from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
He lives in Tequesta with his wife Joann, a retired teacher and town administrator.
His son Philip recently graduated with a master’s degree in international planning from University College London and returns home next month.