Peter Elwell – Brattleboro’s New Town Manager

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And then try one more time.

Such was the unintentional but rewarding path the Brattleboro Selectboard embarked upon almost 16 months ago in a search for a new Town Manager. Along the way, multiple searches were undertaken as selected candidates declined to take the offered position.

The searching has come to an end with a signed contract between the Town of Brattleboro and Peter Elwell, the current Town Manager of Palm Beach, FL being executed Thursday evening by the Selectboard.

Selectboard Chair David Gartenstein said that Elwell has the experience, perspective, vision, and attention to detail that the job requires. Elwell was in town for interviews last Friday and Monday.

Elwell’s contract will be for four years at a salary of $95,000, which Gartenstein said was in the right range for Vermont municipalities. He will receive an annual $5,000 motor vehicle allowance and benefits, and the town will pay moving expenses for his family from Jupiter, Florida.

He will begin January 20, 2015. As such, he will not be an active participant in shaping the upcoming budget.

Elwell was born and raised in Brattleboro and graduated from B.U.H.S. in 1980, according to Gartenstein. He is the son of Corwin “Corky” Elwell, a former and longtime Brattleboro Town Manager. This is the first time in town that a father and son have both held the position of Town Manager.

Kate O’Connor said Elwell knows the area, but has had useful experience away. She said he has impressive credentials and was enthusiastic in his support of and return to Brattleboro. She expected people to find him to be a wonderful person.

Donna Macomber was also impressed with his love of Brattleboro as well as his sincerity, calling him committed and hard working.

John Allen said it was remarkable what the town ended up with after so many setbacks, calling Elwell leaps and bounds above other candidates. He said Elwell has a great personality.

David Schoales said that Elwell combines the best skills of each prior candidate, which makes for a great ending to the search process.

Gartenstein said that Elwell had not applied in the initial three rounds, but applied after the most recent candidate pulled their name out of consideration.

The contract was unanimously approved by a happy board.

Everyone who participated and helped the town in the search process was also thanked for their time and effort.

From the Palm Beach Florida municipal website:

Peter Elwell has been Palm Beach Town Manager since February of 2001. He has over 28 years of experience as a local government professional, including over 25 years with the Town of Palm Beach. Other communities Mr. Elwell has served include the Township of Roxbury, New Jersey (where he was the Township Manager from 1999 to 2001) and the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where he was an aide in the Mayor’s Office of Community Services from 1986 to 1987). 

As Town Manager, Mr. Elwell is responsible for all day-to-day operations of the Town, including management of a $65 million general fund budget and over 340 employees. He also advises the Mayor and Town Council on matters of Town policy and is responsible for implementing the Council’s decisions. 

Mr. Elwell is a member and past president of the Palm Beach County City Management Association. He has been a member of the International City/County Management Association since 1982 and also is a member of the Florida City/County Management Association. His other public service affiliations include 11 years as a member (3 years as Chairman) of the Palm Beach Countywide Beaches and Shores Council. 

As a volunteer, Mr. Elwell is Treasurer of the Town of Palm Beach United Way, a member and Past President of the Palm Beach Flagler Rotary Club, a member of the Quantum Foundation Grants Committee, and a member of the Quantum House Advisory Council. He previously served 7 years on the Board of Directors (3 years as Chairman) of the Deaf Service Center of Palm Beach County and 3 years on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Palm Beach County.  He also has been a youth league basketball and baseball coach. 

Mr. Elwell earned a Master of Governmental Administration degree at the University of Pennsylvania where he was the first Stephen B. Sweeney Scholar. He earned a BA in Political Science at Middlebury College in Vermont, including high honors for his senior thesis, “The Politics of Community Development.” During his college years, Mr. Elwell received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The Truman Scholarship Program, the official Federal memorial to President Truman, provides national recognition and generous funding assistance to students preparing for careers in government. 

Comments | 9

  • And "Best Personality" goes to...

    “John Allen said it was remarkable what the town ended up with after so many setbacks, calling Elwell leaps and bounds above other candidates. He said Elwell has a great personality.”

    What an incredible insult to all the other candidates who applied for; interviewed for and in some instances were chosen to be the town manager.

    And,until now I didn’t realize how much the search for a town manager had in common with the Miss America contest – seeing as a “great personality” counts for so much in both competitions.

    I wish Mr. Elwell only the best in his new position. I don’t envy him his task.

  • ?

    and he wants to move from Florida to Vermont just before winter, because?

    • He must really want to live

      He must really want to live in Vermont because his salary as of 2013 was $220,000 in Florida. Well, good luck to him and I’m glad they finally found someone. Sounds like maybe it was meant to be considering the drop-out candidates extending the search until he actually could make it work time-wise. And maybe living in Florida isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, 360 days of hot might not be so great when you’ve got Vermont’s lovely 4 seasons, I’m leaving out “mud”, the 5th.

  • oh?

    You didn’t watch the governor’s debate then, Chris?

  • Tough audience here

    Elwell seems like a candidate with something for everyone: Lots of experience, local ties, but isn’t already invested in the current bureaucracy. It would have been a lot easier for board members to choose the best from the candidates who applied the first (or second) time, but it seems like they were looking for something in particular. I hope they found it, and that it’s good for Brattleboro.

    • I just read an interview with

      I just read an interview with him and I think this may be a perfect fit. He certainly knows the town, apparently used to deliver newspapers on Main Street. He has really solid experience and background, and although has been working in a small town with a very different demographic, read much wealthier community, he certainly seems to have a realistic idea of where Brattleboro is and what the challenges facing the town are. Experience, smart guy, knows the town and it’s history, wants to live here, seems to have stayed in his positions for long periods so must be pretty adept with people. Jeez, I’m surprised he was put on the short list (LOL). Seriously, this appears to be a really good choice although choice may not be the appropriate word. Appears that we just got really lucky as the timing turned out to be good for his life and we are lucky he wants to come back and help out. Looks like the best piece of town news in a long time.

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