AUGUSTA — Augusta officials are recommending acting City Manager Susan Robertson be given the job permanently, which would make her the first woman to hold the top job on a noninterim basis.

Susan Robertson Contributed photo

Faced with a small pool of candidates to become the next city manager, Augusta officials convinced Robertson to take on the role of manager, even though she had not applied for the job and warned them she had plans to retire in a few years.

Her appointment as the permanent city manager needs to be confirmed by city councilors at their Thursday meeting.

Robertson, 62, said in an interview Monday the opportunity to become the city’s first female city manager was part of what convinced her to change her mind about taking the job.

“There are more women involved in local government now, but I realized there had never been (a female city manager) here in Augusta,” Robertson said. “I realized it may be an issue that’s a bit bigger than myself and serve a good public purpose.

“It’s exciting and a little daunting. You’re the first. So you carry the hopes and wishes of people on your shoulders. That can be a little daunting. But I’ve been in the role of manager before, so I’m comfortable I have a solid background to handle things.”


Robertson would be paid $145,000 a year under the terms of a two-year contract.

Robertson was hired in 2019 as human resources director and assistant city manager. She was initially chosen as the city’s acting manager and at the time she said she would not be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis.

Mayor David Rollins said he and Steve Langsdorf, the city’s attorney, approached Robertson to see if she could be convinced to take the job after the city had 15 applicants put in for the manager’s job, only one of whom was from Maine.

Rollins said Don Gerrish, a consultant hired to oversee the search for a city manager, had recommended five of the applicants be interviewed by city councilors. Two candidates then dropped out, so councilors interviewed the remaining three.

After interviewing the three, Rollins said it was clear there was no candidate among them likely to be the unanimous choice of councilors.

Robertson, who has worked in municipal management for 36 years, said a major reason she did not put in for the job was she expected to retire in three to five years. She felt the city, fresh off now-retired former manager William Bridgeo’s 23-year tenure, wanted someone who would be in the position for a longer period.


Rollins said councilors were aware of Robertson’s thoughts about retirement but decided hiring her as city manager now would give Augusta a quality, experienced manager who knows the area and culture. Rollins said Gardiner, Bangor and Lewiston are among the communities searching for new city managers.

“There are quite a few towns looking for a manager now, so there’s a lot of competition for people,” Rollins said. “We agreed this isn’t something we want to do on a 5-4 vote. It’s something where we want everybody on the same page.

“One thing that came up during the discussion was we’ve got an acting manager, why don’t we see if she’s interested in taking it on a more permanent basis? That would be like a three- to five-year window. I think we all feel very confident with her and happy we had a bird in hand, so to speak. It all just kind of worked out, and it became apparent to everybody this would be a great choice.”

Before coming to Augusta, Robertson was the city administrator in Sun Valley, Idaho, for 6 1/2 years, and the village manager in Fox Point, Wisconsin, for 17 1/2 years. She also served as assistant city manager in Laramie, Wyoming, and Canandaigua, New York, where she worked with Bridgeo.

Robertson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Gerrish, a consultant with Eaton Peabody who has overseen numerous other manager searches for other Maine communities, said those job vacancies are drawing far fewer applicants than they have in recent years. He said Bar Harbor got about 50 applicants for a manager’s job about six years ago.

“We had some good candidates,” Gerrish said of the 15 applicants that put in for the Augusta manager’s job. “We went through the process. They did their interviews and went in a different direction. That’s fine, as long as they find someone, that’s good. I’m pleased they found somebody of her caliber and experience.”

Robertson, whose husband, Steven, died recently, is mother to one adult child living in Salt Lake City, and stepmother to two adult children and one grandchild living in Milwaukee. She said that during her free time, she enjoys traveling, discovering new restaurants, horse racing and reading.

She lives in Augusta, which is required in the city charter for the city manager.

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