Town Manager Bill Sequino: 25 Years Later, He's Still Here
He will be recognized for the anniversary at a Town Council meeting Monday night.
The actual 25th anniversary of Bill Sequino's first day as East Greenwich town manager – Feb. 8 – fell, typically enough, on the Friday of the Blizzard of 2013. Clad in his Gov. Garrahy-best plaid shirt, Sequino took calls from state officials, conferred with Public Works, and sent most town employees home early.
He knows the drill.
Sequino, 64, exudes competence. Ask him a question about the snow removal line item on the budget and he'll pull up the document on his computer, squint at the screen, then finally get someone on the phone if necessary to get you the answer.
Look for some history about parking on Main Street and he'll regale you with past efforts (failed mostly) to acquire more parking, make parking easier, make businesses happier.
Ask him about his proudest accomplishment as town manager and he says ... the town's excellent bond rating.
"He had a reputation as being very strong on the financial side of things," recalls former state Sen. Mike Lenihan, who was on the Town Council when Sequino was hired in 1988.
Sequino had been town manager of Stoneham, Mass., when he was contacted about the East Greenwich job. According to Lenihan, an initial candidate had declined the position because the job required the town manager live in East Greenwich, an expensive proposition for the applicant.
Sequino, coming from Massachusetts, could more readily handle the EG housing costs.
"He was obviously well qualified. When we invited him for the interview, he stood out as the person for the job," Lenihan says. Sequino and his wife, Cynthia, bought a house on Walnut Drive where they still live.
"I was then and I remain to this day one of Bill’s supporters," says Lenihan. "He does a good job and East Greenwich is very fortunate to have him."
Former Town Councilor Judy Bailey remembers some tussles with Sequino over the years – "I can’t say we didn’t have our differences" – but she speaks highly of him.
"I’ve come to think of him as a friend. You just have to look at the shape East Greenwich is in financially compared to the rest of the state. He has a good head for figures," Bailey says.
She also recalls how accommodating he was.
"When I was Council president, I was working at Almacs in Coventry," she said. One day, Sequino needed her signature for a bond. "I was working at the cash register and there was a big pile of cat litter there and Bill came there and I signed the bond on the big pile of cat litter."
Current Council President Michael Isaacs – himself an eight-year veteran as president – regards Sequino as a true professional.
"For 25 years, Bill has brought professionalism to town management in East Greenwich," he says. "Our roads are plowed, our budgets are balanced, and we continue to maintain the highest bond rating in the state.
"He cares about how the town is run, that it’s managed properly financially, and he’s diligent in those efforts," Isaacs says.
For Sequino, in addition to the town's bond rating (AA+), he's proud of the staff he's hired. It's a frequent refrain: "We've got good people," he'll say.
He's also proud of the town's record on building maintenance. In particular, he's pleased the town refurbished the former Kent County Courthouse, transforming it into the Town Hall in the early 1990s. Additionally, he notes work done "in house" on Swift Community Center and the Public Works Department (which had been the Police Department).
Sequino also lists the arrival of New England Tech as a hallmark of his tenure.
While 25 years is a long time, Sequino's is not the longest-serving town manager in the state – that distinction is held by South Kingstown's Stephen Alfred, who's been in that job since 1976. Still, Sequino's built up a solid reputation around the state. Last year he was named to the commission appointed to deal with Woonsocket's budget woes, then chosen to lead it.
In addition, Sequino has taught at Roger Williams University since 2009 – classes including City Management, State & Local Government and Public Policy. And in 2009 he took part in a program for state and local officials at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
He says living in town – raising a family here – has helped him in his job. “I do my best work in the grocery store,” he said. “I’m local.”
That said, the Warren native acknowledges he's still an outsider to some extent.
“Even though I’ve been here 25 years, it’s not long enough to be a Townie," he said. "But it’s certainly long enough to be a resident.”
Sequino will be honored at the Town Council meeting on Monday, March 11, at Swift Community Center at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend.