GARDINER — After a career in education, Andrew Carlton said he’s interested in taking on a new challenge.

Carlton, 41, the top candidate under consideration to be Gardiner’s next city manager, met with about 30 city residents Monday to talk about his experience and how he would make the transition from education management to municipal management. He’s currently the superintendent of Regional School Unit 4, which serves Wales, Sabattus and Litchfield.

Andrew Carlton, currently superintendent of Regional School Unit 4, is the top candidate for the vacant Gardiner city manager position. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

“When you come to things like this, you really get a sense of community,” Carlton said, standing in front of the crowd in the Gardiner Public Library’s children’s room. “What this says to me is that you care about the city of Gardiner. That alone speaks volumes about this city and community. Ultimately, you are what make up our community.”

For about 40 minutes, Carlton fielded questions about his management approach, how he interacts with staff and with the public.

Logan Johnston, a former Gardiner city councilor, said he can see some parallels between school and municipal administration.

“It’s not a usual track,” Johnston said.

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Carlton said he has evaluated the differences and similarities between the two areas.

“There’s a lot of crossover,” he said. “Currently, I oversee an almost $20 million budget and 260 employees. I am the human resources director. I am the financial manager. I oversee all the curriculum, all the buildings and grounds. While I don’t do it directly, I manage a pretty significantly sized staff who does it.”

At the same time, he acknowledged there would be a learning curve for him to learn the difference between school and municipal laws, dealing with collective bargaining agreements and overseeing an emergency services department, which he has not done before.

In Gardiner, he said, he would take time to look, learn and listen.

Carlton said he’s spent a lot of time working with the three municipalities in his district, maintaining open communication and transparency about the district’s actions, and those skills will easily transfer to working in the municipal realm.

“I am looking forward to new challenges and working with new people,” he said.

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As a leader, he said, it’s not his role to squelch creativity. Giving people the opportunity to succeed breeds creativity and gives people the opportunity to shine.

The meeting with residents is just one step in the city’s hiring process.

Mayor Patricia Hart said in the current round of the city manager search, Carlton’s resume was among the three submitted, and he’s the only person interviewed of that group.

“We continue to work with the candidate and will provide an update when we are able,” Hart said Wednesday via email.

Carlton is the current superintendent of RSU 4 and was named superintendent in 2017 after serving as the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Carlton grew up in Weld and Wilton. The Mt. Blue High School graduate attended Campbell University in North Carolina for two and a half years before returning to Maine and graduating from the University of Maine at Farmington.

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He had thought he would pursue golf, but after spending winters as an education technician, he said he fell in love with kids.

Before his time as curriculum director, Carlton was the assistant principal of Oak Hill High School in Wales for three years. He also worked for a year as director of special education in Maine School Administrative District 13, which serves Moscow and Bingham.

Carlton has a master’s degree in education from the University of Phoenix. He lives in Fairfield with his wife and four children.

He’s currently in the second year of a five-year contract with RSU 4.

“To be able to affect education on a different level and affect the future of our youth has been a pretty amazing 20-year run,” he said.

He said he learned about the city manager’s position from a friend at a time when he was starting to consider whether he wanted to take on something different, and he applied.

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During his time in the school district, he said, he traveled to and through Gardiner.

“To watch the growth of the city, to see what’s gone on in the downtown and the waterfront area has just been unbelievable,” he said.

Gardiner city officials launched the search for a new city manager nearly a year ago, following the resignation of Christine Landes, who was nearing the end of her three-year contract.

In October 2021, city officials hosted a public meeting to introduce Christopher Ryan as a candidate; he was one of 12 applicants. Following that meeting, however, Ryan — who is the director of economic and community development for Harvard, Massachusetts — withdrew from consideration.

Since then, Anne Davis has been acting city manager.

Hart has invited those who attended to give their feedback on Carlton to her and to city councilors.


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