Former Naugatuck mayor, longtime state representative and current burgess Ron San Angelo may once again be getting involved at the top level of municipal government. But it won't be in Naugatuck.
San Angelo, 50, is one of three finalists for town manager in Great Barrington, Mass., and one of two finalists for town administrator in South Hadley, Mass. Both positions are similar to the role of mayor but are appointed, not elected. Plus, the person in those positions does not vote on government matters; rather the person handles the day-to-day operations of a community.
"Both are beautiful towns with great people," San Angelo told Patch on Saturday. "I love local government and helping people. What I miss tremendously is getting things accomplished where you can see real benefits for citizens."
Great Barrington, which calls itself "the No. 1 small town," is less than a third the size of Naugatuck, where San Angelo has lived his whole life. Great Barrington, in Berkshire County near the Berkshire Mountain range, has a population of 7,104, according to 2010 U.S. Census data. South Hadley, also in Berkshire County, is just outside the city of Springfield, Mass., and has a population of 17,514, according to 2010 Census data. It is home of the prestigious Mount Holyoke College for women.
San Angelo was state representative of the 131st District, which covers Oxford and parts of Naugatuck and Southbury for 10 years until 2002 when he ran unsuccessfully for Secretary of the State in Connecticut. He lost to Susan Bysiewicz. San Angelo, a Republican, then ran for mayor of Naugatuck, defeating current Mayor Bob Mezzo, a Democrat, and third-party candidate Peter Jurzynski. San Angelo then defeated Democrat Curtis Bosco in 2005.
In 2007, San Angelo announced he would not seek a third term because he had been awarded a state post by then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell. San Angelo served as project manager for the state Department of Information Technology for about two years.
San Angelo ran for the Naugatuck Republican Party's endorsement for mayor in the 2009 campaign but lost to then incumbent Mike Bronko, who ended up losing to Mezzo in the general election.
Currently, San Angelo is a senior technology project manager for CGI, an information technology company based in Andover, Mass. He said he manages large projects for the company.
San Angelo has some pretty stiff competition for the Massachusetts jobs. According to the Berkshire Eagle, he is paired as a finalist for the Great Barrington position with a senior project manager in the New York City mayor's office and a former 10-year mayor of Holyoke, Mass., who is currently town administrator for Maynard, Mass.
The town administrator from Maynard, Michael Sullivan, is also San Angelo's competition for the South Hadley job, according to the Springfield Republican.
San Angelo said the interviews are "pretty much completed" for the South Hadley job and that officials in that community are expected to discuss the position Tuesday night. And the selectmen in Great Barrington will interview all three candidates on March 11, after which time they are expected to make a decision.
San Angelo said he relishes the opportunity to make towns better places to live.
"I think of when I was mayor of Naugatuck and we were building the ice skating rinks," he said. "Seeing grandparents out there with kids creating memories that last a lifetime is an awesome feeling."
San Angelo, who was a finalist last year for another town manager position in Framingham, a large Massachusetts town, said he likes the town manager form of government and thinks that is something Naugatuck should look into. He said he believes Naugatuck is in good hands with Mezzo, an attorney by trade whom San Angelo said has a solid grasp of what it takes to run a community.
"But what happens when there are no good candidates like Bob?" San Angelo asked. "I think the town manager position is something that Naugatuck should consider because it brings professionalism to the job; we're not just electing someone who is popular. I say this not for my own benefit but because I think it's what is best for Naugatuck. I felt this way long before I applied for the jobs in Massachusetts."