Town Council votes to reappoint Corrigan as East Greenwich town manager

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EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — In a heavily attended meeting Monday, the East Greenwich Town Council voted to reappoint Gayle Corrigan as town manager.

Town Council voted 4-1 in favor of reappointing Corrigan, who has had a strained relationship with town residents since her appointment as acting town manager during a closed-door meeting back in June.

Councilman Mark Schwager was the only opposing vote.

The decision was met with several “boos” from the crowd, who were holding up signs that read “If Gayle’s in, you’re out!”

Several residents attended the town council meeting Monday to speak out against Corrigan’s reappointment. The meeting was initially supposed to be at town hall, which quickly filled to capacity. It was later moved down the road to the Swift Community Center.

Several people testified against Corrigan’s reappointment during Monday night’s meeting. One of those people was Russell Knight, who was also a finalist for the town manager position. Knight said he is “disappointed” he wasn’t chosen for the job, and hopes the town can move in a positive direction. 

The town council said it conducted an extensive search for the town manager position, starting last November. The council said it was a confidential search because several of the applicants had full-time jobs. 

The town council said it set its qualifications for the position, and then formed a six-member advisory board, which included a local school principal, business owner, and member of the EG Chamber of Commerce. That board narrowed the field to five candidates, two of which ended up dropping out. 

The board then narrowed down the search to two finalists: Russell Knight and Gayle Corrigan. During Monday’s meeting, one of the board members said the board felt both Knight and Corrigan were equally qualified for the role. 

It was the council who ultimately came to a “consensus” that Corrigan was the best fit for the job.

Corrigan said she is ready to continue as town manager. She said she plans to focus on school funding within the next fiscal year.

“I am fit for the job,” Corrigan said. “Obviously the advisory and town council believe so.”

Corrigan is considered an “at will” employee, meaning she does not have a term limit and can serve as long as the town council keeps her.

She said she wants to stay in East Greenwich until all of the financial issues are resolved.

In July 2017, the East Greenwich Town Council voted unanimously to remove “acting” from Corrigan’s title. Town residents were unhappy with councilors after Corrigan’s position became permanent, arguing that Town Council needed to be more transparent about their decisions.

Corrigan was also in hot water after she fired James Perry, an East Greenwich firefighter, for supposedly lying on his resume.

Following a five-day bench trial, a judge ruled that the Town Council violated the open meetings law by appointing Corrigan as town manager, invalidating her appointment. The judge also reinstated Perry, saying Corrigan had “no valid basis” to fire him.

Corrigan was eventually reinstated during a public meeting at the end of 2017.

Corrigan has also been trying to restructure the town’s fire department, which would in turn lead to several layoffs and an increase in overtime.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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