The Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen interviewed the third and final candidate for the full-time Harbormaster position on Tuesday night immediately prior to their regular meeting at 7:00 pm. Since posting the position in early May, 11 highly qualified individuals applied. The Mattapoisett Marine Advisory Board sorted through the résumés and presented the top three to the Selectmen; of the three, one had withdrawn and one had previously interviewed for the position.
During her interview, candidate Jill Simmons explained her work history with the New Bedford Police Department and her role in the city’s harbor as waterfront security and the de facto harbormaster. She expects to retire from these duties by the end of August.
Selectman Paul Silva said that the Selectmen had previously spoken to Simmons about her credentials, and that the purpose of the night’s interview was to converse about Mattapoisett Harbor.
“Unfortunately, truthfully, I’m not all that familiar,” Simmons admitted, though she has toured the harbor and participated in training exercises under the piers. “I don’t know how the mooring fields are set up; I took a quick look.”
Harbormaster Horace Field verified Simmons’ working knowledge of the recent re-gridding of the mooring fields, which Field intends to finish prior to stepping down from the position.
“Pretty much, the harbor is where we’d like it to be,” Field told Simmons. “It’s all gridded.” He added that the only task left is listening to boat-owners who like to comment when they’ve noticed that their boat has been moved to its new spot on the grid.
When asked how she would contribute to the Mattapoisett waterfront as the harbormaster, Simmons replied, “Law enforcement is my thing. You look at registrations. You’ve got excise taxes. I can sit there with an iPad on the boat and run any list imaginable.”
For Simmons, part of running a harbor is being active on the water.
“You need to have somebody out there,” she said.
One of the problems that Simmons would like to address is speed infractions, typically associated with jet skis.
“I’m not anti-jet ski,” Simmons said. “I’m just anti-nitwit jet ski. They don’t have the right to go through a mooring field at 120 miles per hour. I’ve got no problem writing those citations.”
Simmons mentioned that citations are a financial resource for the town, especially if the citations are filed through the Massachusetts Environmental Police, whereby 100 percent of the fine stays within the town.
Another area Simmons would like to explore is the appropriation of a larger, and therefore more useful, vessel for the Shellfish Warden. Currently, the Shellfish Warden has a 14-foot aluminum vessel that isn’t conducive to patrol. The Selectmen voiced the possibility of using grants to purchase a Boston Whaler.
Simmons concluded her interview by stressing the number of qualifications she has earned during her 40-plus years on the New Bedford Police Department, namely her ability to work at any time on the clock.
“I don’t mind working all night,” Simmons said. “I’ll come in early.”
In their meeting that followed the interview, the Selectmen unanimously agreed to authorize Town Administrator Michael Gagne to contact Simmons about completing the paperwork that would institute her as Mattapoisett’s next Harbormaster.
“If she says ‘No,’ I will be very disappointed,” Selectman Jordan Collyer said. “I’ve known her for a long time. She’s well-respected in her field.”
Silva’s praise for Simmons was effusive.
“I, without question, believe that Jill has more qualifications and experience,” Silva said. “She is extremely well-qualified. There is an additional page, single-spaced, of additional trainings she’s done over the years [in her résumé].”
Selectman R. Tyler Macallister suggested that the town place Simmons’ résumé on its website for the public to view.
“It’s a great opportunity for the town,” he said.
“To get somebody with that experience who is willing to work part-time is very fortunate,” Silva agreed.
By Anne Smith