An Oakland police officer was approved by the Town Council as the new town manager Thursday and will replace outgoing manager Peter Nielsen next month.

Officer Gary Bowman, who has served with the police department for 15 years, was appointed to the position after councilmen considered more than 40 resumes, said Chairman Mike Perkins.

“It was easy,” said Councilman Dana Wrigley. “We just looked for the best man for the job.”

Bowman said he will begin learning the manager duties starting Monday and will officially take over the position on Oct. 4. Nielsen’s last day is Oct. 3.

Outgoing manager Nielsen announced in late August that he will retire after more than five years in Oakland and 24 years as a town manager in four communities.

Nielsen became Oakland’s town manager in December 2008 after a stint in Wilton at the same post. He also has been town manager in Wayne and Clinton. He said previously that he plans to return to his hometown, Winthrop, to be a school bus driver.

Bowman, 54, of Madison, said he thought five years ago that if he was still working for the police department and the position of town manager opened up, he would apply for the position.

“I’ve always been in leadership, and I wanted to pursue leadership again,” he said.

Before working for the Oakland Police Department, Bowman managed a Fairfield grocery store.

Bowman, a graduate of Madison High School, was at Thursday’s council meeting with his wife of 23 years, Annette. They have five children and five grandchildren.

He said while he worked in Oakland, he has gotten to know the residents during their highs and lows and feels a strong connection to the community.

“I’ve become very close with the people,” he said.

The position of town manager will involve overseeing the town’s day to day affairs at the direction of the council. The diverse town departments under Bowman’s management include administration, assessment, fire and rescue, police, public works, building and grounds, transfer station, recreation, code enforcement, sewer and the library.

“I’m up for the challenge,” said Bowman.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

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