At their meeting Thursday night, City Council members unanimously approved the appointment of Karen Partanean as the replacement for Doug Bollen as Salem's director of Park, Recreation and Community Services.
But support for the appointment was far from unanimous. None of the councilors argued that Partanean was anything but highly qualified to run.
Several councilors, including two frequent opponents -- Councilor at Large Thomas Furey and Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski, argued that a qualified Salem resident should have been appointed to run the parks department.
"It is a very challenging position," Furey said. "It needs to be someone who has lived for a long time in Salem."
Sosnowski agreed that the position should have gone to someone in Salem and to someone who has worked in the department. "It helps the morale within city departments to promote from within," he said.
Partanean, who has moved to Woburn, was the facilities operations manager for 10 years for the city of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, who nominated Partanean, said, "I am confident that with her extensive experience, Ms. Partanean will hit the ground running in the Director's position, and she will be an asset to Salem's Senior Management Team.
Partanean, after being appointed, said she has extensive experience in running all aspects of the parks and recreation program, including programs for all age residents. "I won't let you down," she said.
Ward 7 Councilor Joseph O'Keefe supported the appointment, but argued that the city needs to have a separate director for the Council on Aging. He said he plans to introduce a measure to create that position, which is now merged into the parks director post.
"The council on aging should have its own director," said Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan.