Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced today that recently retired Ward One Alderman William Roche has agreed to use his extensive background as a human resources professional to assist the city in the role of interim, part-time Personnel Director.
“Bill has an outstanding professional résumé, and few people have a better understanding of Somerville city government,” said Curtatone. “Honestly, I wish he were available to serve as Personnel Director on a full-time basis; I’d offer him the job in a second. But he isn’t and, with so much happening on the personnel front – including contract negotiations, the filling of key vacancies and the ongoing modernization of systems and procedures – Bill’s assistance even on a part-time basis will be invaluable. As soon as he told me about his plans to retire as alderman, I jumped at the chance to get his help.”
Roche announced his resignation from the Board of Aldermen at the Board’s December 13th meeting, and handed in his resignation with immediate effect. He noted in an emotional statement that it had become increasingly difficult to balance his family, work and political obligations. “I am now making decisions between attending a family event such as a sports youth game, or school or extracurricular event, spending more time with my father – or attending an alderman related meeting. These are decisions I do not want to make,” Roche said. “When I first ran for Alderman in 1996, I publicly stated that if and when the responsibilities of the job interfered with my personal and social life, it would be time for me to step down. I guess now is that time.”
Roche, who holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources from Boston University, has worked at NSTAR since 1971. After rising in the ranks of NSTAR’s Operations Division, he moved in 1999 to its Human Resources Organization, where he has held a series of increasingly senior positions and currently serves as Safety and Compliance Manager.
“Being an effective alderman was taking a tremendous toll on my evening and weekend schedules, but I’m not as worried about juggling tasks as the Mayor is allowing me flexibility in my hours,” said Roche. “I’ll have to make adjustments as I go, but I want to be as helpful as possible to the Mayor and his administration consistent with my other professional responsibilities.”
Sarah Kloos, the city’s previous Personnel Director, resigned effective November 30 as she prepared for the arrival of her second child. The city has already begun a search for a permanent replacement, and one of Roche’s tasks will be to assist in that process. Roche said he would give the city as many hours as he could on a part-time basis. His salary as interim Personnel Director will be prorated to reflect the hours he actually works. As he did during his service as Ward 1 Alderman, Roche will continue to voluntarily forgo health insurance benefits from the city.
“I’ve had to do plenty of hiring, training and compliance work over the years, and I’ve been through plenty of collective bargaining negotiations, so I’m confident I can help the Personnel Department during this interim period. And I’ll still be able to spend more time connecting to my family – which is hard to do with all the after hours work an alderman has to accept as part of the job.”
First elected in 1996, Roche briefly served as Acting Mayor in 1999 when then-Mayor Michael Capuano resigned to take his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Before tendering his own resignation, he asked the Board of Aldermen to support Ward 1 School Committee Member Maureen Bastardi as a candidate to serve out the remainder of his term as Ward 1 Alderman. The Board adopted his recommendation on a unanimous vote, and Bastardi immediately resigned from her seat on the School Committee to be sworn in.
“It’s been a huge honor to serve as Ward 1’s School Committee member since 2004, and I am well aware of the even greater responsibilities I’m assuming as I take Bill’s seat on the Board of Aldermen,” said Bastardi. “Of course, no one can actually replace Bill. He’s been an amazing alderman who has done great things for Ward 1 and for the city as a whole. I hope that working closely with him over the past nine years has given me a solid understanding of the agenda he’s pursued and will give me a chance to hit the ground running for the residents of our ward and the people of our city.
“It’s both an exciting and very sobering prospect,” Bastardi said. “To the Mayor and to my new colleagues on the Board, but above all to the people of Ward 1, I offer my solemn promise to do my very best to uphold the high standard of integrity, compassion and public service that Bill has brought to his municipal service.”
The School Committee meets next Monday to discuss the appointment of an interim successor for Bastardi.