Bedford Town Manager Sarah Stanton unexpectedly announced her resignation in a prepared statement on Tuesday afternoon.
Stanton, who has served since October 2018 as Bedford’s second town manager, said only that “I will be stepping down from my position as Town Manager in the coming weeks, to pursue a new career opportunity.”
The announcement came less than one day after a single-session Annual Town Meeting in which almost every article on the warrant passed with almost no controversy.
Select Board Chair Bopha Malone said the board will follow the same process as used after the retirement announcement of Stanton’s predecessor, Richard Reed, in the spring of 2018. She said details will be announced at the board meeting on April 10.
In 2018, a seven-member citizens’ search committee worked with a municipal executive search consultant, who screened resumes and application materials. The committee recommended four finalists, who were interviewed by the Board of Selectmen.
Bedford’s interim town manager will be Colleen Doyle, who has served as Assistant Town Manager for Human Resources and Administration since September 2019. Doyle began her career in Town Hall in 2012 as an administrative assistant in Reed’s office. Malone said Doyle will take over in early May.
In answer to a question, Malone said the town manager shared her plans with the Select Board in mid-March.
Stanton, in her statement, said, “I am proud of the work that has been accomplished by our team over the past four and a half years. Together, we navigated a global health pandemic, established a community food bank that continues to serve 200 households per week, created Bedford’s first racial equity municipal action plan, and strengthened the capital budget and operating budget.”
“Sarah Stanton’s departure from Bedford is bittersweet,” said Malone in her prepared statement. “Her leadership as town manager, particularly through the challenges of Covid, has kept Bedford on a steady path and preserved our fiscal and community health.”
Stanton arrived in Bedford with an impressive resume in municipal finance. After serving as procurement officer for Woburn, she was the chief financial officer and city auditor in Salem from 2013-2017, working closely with Mayor Kim Driscoll, now lieutenant governor. Stanton then was Cambridge budget director before beginning in Bedford in October 2018.
“Town Manager Sarah Stanton is leaving some big shoes to fill,” said state Rep. Ken Gordon in an email. “Bedford had outsized influence on state policy these past several years in part because of the respect Sarah garnered from the administration and other municipalities. We will miss her.”
Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad, who will retire in three months, praised Stanton as “an incredible partner through the pandemic and beyond. Her support of our needs was incredible and I will be forever grateful for her leadership.”
Stanton, in her announcement, said, “We have provided greater transparency and engagement with the community, established the Department of Health and Human Services, hosted the first-ever Bedford beer gardens on the Common, and recruited major businesses such as Ultragenyx, which will benefit Bedford’s tax base for years to come. These are just some of the many projects I was honored to lead during my tenure.”
She extended thanks to municipal and school staff members, “who are some of the most talented and dedicated people that I have had the opportunity to work with. Bedford is lucky to have departmental leadership and employees who are experts in their fields, consummate professionals, and deeply dedicated to this community.”
She also thanked her staff, as well as the Select Board and other elected and appointed board and committee members.