Oakland Town Manager Ella Bowman has been hired as the town manager in Winslow. Bowman is shown above in April after being recognized as municipal employee of the year by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

WINSLOW — The Town Council moved quickly to name a new town manager, voting Monday night to hire Oakland Town Manager Ella Bowman as the top administrator in Winslow.

Bowman, 63, has served as Oakland’s manager for nearly a decade. She was named the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce municipal employee of the year in April, before being placed on administrative leave without a public explanation in late August, prompting questions and protest from residents.

Ella Bowman Resignation by Maine Trust For Local News on Scribd

Bowman said at Monday’s meeting she is excited to take the reins in Winslow and she hopes to implement her same style of leadership in her new role.

I’m not going to put the town of Winslow in a position where you’re embarrassed with me,” Bowman said. “Look at what we’ve done in Oakland. I mean, it’s amazing. We’ve taken that town, we’ve changed it around.

“We’ve done a lot and I’m hoping that we can do the same thing with the support of the council, the seasonal employees, and citizens to do the same thing in the town of Winslow.”


Winslow Councilor Dale Macklin said the council decided to forego a search committee for a new manager in favor of moving to swiftly hire Bowman.

“The charter provides that the Town Council hires the town manager,” Macklin said. “There was nothing in the charter or in our ordinances that establishes any procedures for any hiring in this town. Not the town manager or department heads.

“There was nothing that directs the town manager on what process has to be taken to hire a department head.”

Bowman’s arrival comes shortly after current Winslow Town Manager Erica LaCroix announced she is leaving in December to become the top administrator in Farmington.

Some residents expressed concern Monday about the lack of public input behind Bowman’s hiring, saying the public should have been included in the hiring process.

Many residents said they were worried about what they described as a lack of accountability in Winslow’s town government, which has faced public scrutiny in recent months because of allegations the council met outside the public eye to discuss town business.


I think we should just slow down and catch our breath and go through some kind of a process,” resident Roy Lord said. “I don’t think I would hire anybody myself if they were under investigation. If I were under investigation, I wouldn’t expect someone to hire me.”

Council Chairman Peter Drapeau said Winslow’s town charter does not mandate a process for hiring the town manager. The decision to sidestep the search and hiring committees, Drapeau said, was made after careful legal consideration.

Winslow moved to hire Bowman before another community could hire her, Drapeau added, saying her reputation as a skilled administrator meant Winslow was not the only municipality looking to hire her.

“This was, for lack of a better explanation, a perfect storm,” Drapeau said. “It may appear that we are rushing things, but everything just worked out. We just didn’t make a call last night.”

Bowman said she is the only openly transgender town manager in the country, having begun her gender transition two years ago.

Prior to becoming the town manager in Oakland, where her annual salary is $95,000, plus benefits and a car allowance, Bowman was an Oakland police officer for 15 years and twice named the Police Department’s officer of the year.


LaCroix, Winslow’s departing town manager and a resident of Oakland, rejected concerns she had hand-picked her successor, but still endorsed Bowman as a skilled administrator.

“I just want to address this: I did not nominate or in any way put Ella Bowman on an agenda to be hired,” LaCroix said. “I apologize that this has to be such a scandal, her coming in, but it has nothing to do with a backdoor.”

During Monday night’s meeting, Bowman said she planned to resign from her post in Oakland after signing her contract with Winslow.

I’m going to resign,” Bowman said.My time has come regardless of how this investigation comes out. It’s like the water has been poisoned. I cannot go back into that equation.”

Bowman was placed on nondisciplinary administrative leave Aug. 23 by the Oakland Town Council, following an executive session that was not publicized on the Town Council agenda. Bowman said later that council Chairman Michael Perkins told her the private session was about her and he asked her to leave, which she did. After the meeting, Perkins called her to say she was being put on leave, but would not explain why.

On Aug. 25, Bowman received a letter from Perkins in the mail saying the reason she was placed on leave was that a municipal employee had filed a complaint against her, and an independent investigator was being hired to look into the matter.

At a protest at a Sept. 13 Town Council meeting, Oakland residents asked councilors and their attorney, Matt Tarasevich, many questions, but councilors said they could not answer because they involved a confidential personnel matter. Many residents at the meeting said they feared the council’s action against Bowman was related to her being transgender.

It was not clear Monday night when Bowman is to begin as Winslow’s town manager.

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