Monday, May 27, 2024

George Proakis gives a presentation in 2015 in this video screen capture.

Watertown’s City Council voted unanimously to appoint George Proakis as its next city manager May 24. He will succeed Michael Driscoll, who retired in January after 29 years in the position.

The selection of Proakis was no surprise, with a majority of the councilors indicating they favored him over the two other finalists after interviewing them May 12.

Proakis will be coming from the City of Somerville, where he has been the executive director of its Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development for the past 3.5 years, and was the director of planning and zoning for nearly nine years. He also worked in the City of Lowell’s planning department for eight years.

The other two city manager finalists were Billerica’s town manager, John Curran, and Hopkinton’s town manager, Norman Khumalo – a candidate for Cambridge city manager.

“Mr. Proakis provides what this city is looking for today,” council president Mark Sideris said. “Given all the things we have gone through with the charter review and all the issues raised through that and other processes, I think that he will be able to guide us through.”

The city manager search was “rigorous,” Sideris said. The city, working with consultants from Community Paradigm Associates, put out a job posting and received 23 applications for the position. A screening committee narrowed the pool to three finalists.

Multiple councilors noted that they were impressed with all three finalists. Councilor John Gannon said: “We were blessed to have three amazing finalists. I can only imagine the other applications that the screening [committee] saw.”

Still, council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli had earlier called Proakis “head and shoulders above the rest.” Proakis was not looking for a new job, Sideris said, but the search consultant was able to talk him into applying.

A version of this story appeared originally on the Watertown News.