… about Swampscott Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald
By CYRUS MOULTON
1. He has North Shore connections, including with Swampscott.
Fitzgerald is a lifelong resident of Peabody, now living within a half mile of where he grew up in South Peabody. His brother is a Peabody Police officer, and his mother still lives in the city, as do his two sisters, who also live within a half mile of the home where they all grew up.
But Fitzgerald has many Swampscott connections. His grandparents lived on Bay View Drive and his great-grandparents lived on Banks Road.
“I always remembered Swampscott as just an enchanted community,” Fitzgerald said, noting he often spent Christmas and Thanksgiving in the town, time which included visiting Fisherman’s Beach and cheering for Big Blue Football.
Fitzgerald’s connection to Swampscott also includes a long record of service: Two of his great-uncles have their names are etched on the World War II monument in Swampscott, and three of his uncles’ names are on the Vietnam Memorial in Swampscott. One uncle still lives in Swampscott. His grandmother was a school nurse in Swampscott for a couple of decades.
“I’m not the first to serve in a municipal position in Swampscott,” Fitzgerald noted.
Fitzgerald also worked with the Essex County Advisory Board from 1994 to 2000, focusing on a project designating Essex County National Heritage Sites and a major regional project building the Friendship of Salem, the replica Salem East Indiaman ship berthed at Derby Wharf.
Fitzgerald said that he sees a few such possible sites in Swampscott, most notably White Court, the former Marian Court College and summer home for President Calvin Coolidge.
“It would be extraordinary for Swampscott to have a connection to that rich history,” Fitzgerald said. “Perhaps even it would be an opportunity for the National Park Service or Department of Conservation and Recreation to help play a role celebrating that history. But we’ve got to be really reaching out and building that relationship and reminding people of the important strands of history that weave together the remarkable history of Swampscott and also greater Essex County History.”
2. He is from a family of twins.
Fitzgerald’s brother and sister are twins. He has twin boys, and his brother has twin girls. Fitzgerald’s sister has twins. He married a twin, and he has a sister who was born less than 12 months from him.
“We’re efficient, I guess,” Fitzgerald said.
3. He was caught up in the Saugus Recall effort.
Fitzgerald had a signed contract and was sworn in as town manager of Saugus, but never actually began the position.
The Saugus Board of Selectmen in October 2014 voted 4-1 to fire Town Manager Scott Crabtree and in February 2015 voted to hire Fitzgerald. He signed a contract and was sworn into office the day before a recall election unseated the four selectmen who had voted to fire Crabtree. Fitzgerald’s contract was voided a week later after the four new selectmen were sworn in and they voted to reinstate Crabtree. Fitzgerald was reinstated in Plaistow, N.H. where he had served as town manager since 2008.
Fitzgerald said he chose not to pursue legal action and doesn’t think the incident will have any impact on his relationship with Saugus town officials. “I’m in the business to help cities and towns, and even though sometimes, some unfair things can happen, I think it’s important that you can try and take the high road,” Fitzgerald said.
“I hope people will recognize that I did what I could to try to help the good people of Saugus.”
4. He thinks laughter is the best medicine.
Fitzgerald’s best friend from high school is Gary Gulman, a nationally touring comedian who finished third on season 2 of Last Comic Standing. Another friend, Dave Greenberg, was also a comedian before becoming a certified public accountant. But one of the funniest people that Fitzgerald said he knows is his brother Jerry, who is a Peabody cop. And no, he said he never wanted to be a comedian.
5. He says now is the time for action in Swampscott.
Fitzgerald said Swampscott has many goals that it has identified — for instance, revitalizing Humphrey Street, better utilizing the MBTA station, and protecting its natural resources.
But now the time has come to “pull together town leaders and begin that incremental work.”
“Swampscott does not need to study more issues.” Fitzgerald said. That being said… “It’s going to take partnerships and it’s going to take cooperation.”
And despite the rivalry, Fitzgerald sees some of that collaboration with Marblehead where his friend John McGinn is town administrator.