FAIRFAX — The town’s first manager is resigning from his post, leaving the town searching for a new administrator.
“This is a personal decision for me and my family,” Town Manager Brad Docheff told The Messenger recently. “It’s time for a change of pace.”
In an interview with The Messenger Monday, Selectboard Chair Steve Cormier joked that he predicted — after Docheff asked for a meeting — that another town was trying to steal Docheff away.
“I said to him, ‘How much more money are we going to have to pay you?” Cormier laughed. “But good for him. He’s a young guy with a young family ... If you’re going to do something big, now’s the time.”
Originally from New Jersey, Docheff came to Vermont in 1988 and has remained ever since, but said he and his family will be relocating to the sunny state of South Carolina this summer.
“I’ll miss the community,” Docheff said. “It’s been a great place to live, and a pleasure to serve this community. I was the first town manager here, so hopefully I’ve set the stage.”
According to the April 5 Fairfax Selectboard meeting minutes, selectboard member Steve Bessette made a motion to accept Docheff’s resignation effective June 1, which was unanimously supported.
“We are currently going through the hiring process, and reviewing applicants,” Docheff said. “Selectboard members and staff are narrowing down candidates in the coming weeks ... they’ve received over a dozen applicants.”
Docheff leaves after almost three years as the town’s first ever manager. Cormier said he came in mid-process to understand that the board at the time wanted to budget for a town manager for less than 30 hours a week.
“What the board at the time wanted was a town administrator,” Cormier said. “At the time, the selectboard chair would run the town.”
But the selectboard came back and created a full-time job description, and Docheff stepped up to the plate, quickly taking up the mantle of furthering Fairfax’s sidewalk projects, extending the sewer line from Runamok Maple down to Main Street, and creating a set of very large footprints for Fairfax’s next manager.
“I wish he wasn’t leaving,” Cormier said. “We can’t go backwards here. Brad came in, not with experience as a town manager, he was able to take from what he did in the past and he has done a tremendous job as town manager.”
As much if not more than his confidence, respectfulness and resourcefulness, Docheff will be remembered for the strong and steady relationships he held and nourished with members of the Fairfax community, sources say.
“When you’re in that position, you’re at the forefront whether it’s good or bad,” Cormier said. “In my mind, what ranks number one is your relationship with the public.”
The search committee for Docheff’s replacement is made up of three community members, two staff and two selectboard members. Cormier said they had 16 resumes show up to vie for the position.
Five of them have been moved forward to interview on Wednesday and Thursday this week, Cormier said.
“Change is constant,” Cormier said. “I’d hoped Brad would have been around for a few more years. He will be sorely missed by the board and by the community. He’s such a good guy. He’s a smart guy. He doesn’t haphazardly do something, and he does his research. He’s going to be tough to replace.”