Select Board Appoints Kraunelis Acting Town Manager

Appointing Acting Town Manager

Listen to this article

READING, MA — On Tuesday night, the Select Board appointed current Assistant Town Manager Matt Kraunelis as the Acting Town Manager for Reading. The vote was 5-0. Kraunelis will assume the role on January 1, 2024, and retain it until a new town manager is onboard.

Kraunelis has been in Reading for more than eight years, previously serving as the Director of Administrative Services. He has over 25 years of experience in law and government.

Matt Kraunelis

Kraunelis currently leads a department that includes Human Resources, Operations/Procurement, Town Clerk/Elections, Community Development & Community Services. He also acts as the Ombudsman to all citizens in their day-to-day dealings with the town. He oversees communications, public information requests, and media relations on behalf of current Town Manager, Fidel Maltez.

Prior to working in Reading, Kraunelis served as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. He also served in several roles in state and local government, including as the Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Methuen, Assistant General Counsel at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, and Methuen City Councilor. Kraunelis is a member of the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association and the New Hampshire Bar Association.

“I think we will be in good hands,” Select Board member Carlo Bacci said as he voiced his support for Kraunelis.

Town Manager Screening Committee

The board also selected Denise Baker and Christopher Messing as the two at-large resident members of the Town Manager Screening Committee by a vote of 5-0. Baker is an employee of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and shared with the committee her interview on November 29 that she has worked with hundreds of town managers. Messing has 24 years of executive recruiting experience, noting in his interview that he knows what it takes to make searches run successfully. Kevin Leete was also appointed as the alternate if one of the two is unable to accept the role.

Liquor Licenses

The Board voted 5-0 to renew all 23 restaurant liquor licenses in town. Maltez reported that two licensees, Oye’s Restaurant and Chili’s Restaurant, had violations in the past year. Both violations were currently under review by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). Select Board member Mark Dockser noted that the board could seek to enact discipline after the ABCC report is filed. Oye’s owner, Kevin Ye, appeared before the board and apologized for the infraction, noting that his business has been in town for over ten years, with this being their first issue. He reported that the employee in question was a long-time employee and had undergone retraining on alcoholic beverage service.

The manager of Chili’s was also invited to the meeting but was unable to attend. Maltez did share that the restaurant had dismissed the employee who caused the infraction. Dockser asked that the manager be invited to participate in a future meeting.

Bill Russell Proposal

Linda Snow Dockser, Tara Gregory, and Philmore Phillip II, representing the Coalition of Us, presented a plan to establish an ad-hoc committee tasked with developing a plan to continue to honor the legacy of former Reading resident Bill Russell, especially regarding his social justice activity. Russell, who moved to Reading with his family in 1963, faced considerable racial discrimination in town until he moved away in 1969.


The ad-hoc committee, nicknamed BRACE, would find ways to help acknowledge and express accountability for the mistreatment of the Russell family in Reading, develop long-term plans to implement the call in a November 2022 Select Board proclamation calling for continued recognition of Russell and his accomplishments, seek funding resources to enact the long-term plan and strive to help create a town-wide vision of inclusivity. The committee would seek the Russell family’s permission to use his name in its name, plans, and activities.

Each member of the Select Board expressed support for the concept, while several asked questions regarding technical issues, including Select Board member Karen Herrick questioning the proposed make-up of the committee, Select Board chair Jackie McCarthy questioning how the group will function if the Russell family does not grant permission, and Bacci wondering why a private group cannot accomplish the same tasks without an ad-hoc committee needing to be formed. Dockser suggested that cooperation from the Russell family should be sought “sooner rather than later.” He also pointed out that ad-hoc committees “is how we get this type of thing done” in Reading.

“[Russell] is part of our history, and I support an effort to reflect that,” Herrick stated. The Select Board will continue the discussion in future meetings, noting that Russell’s birthday is in February.

Green Communities

The board voted 5-0 to send a letter to the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) asking them to act on Reading Town Meeting’s November 2020 vote asking for extension of the Green Communities initiative to communities with municipal light companies. McCarthy complained about the “bureaucratic hold this has been stuck in” at the state level for two years. Herrick noted that Reading’s application to join Green Communities was filed with the state in December 2021. Herrick and McCarthy will make slight amendments to the original draft before submitting it to the DOER.

During her liaison report, McCarthy shared that Governor Maura Healy had signed Reading’s home rule petition to increase the Board of Health from three to five members. According to McCarthy, the Board of Health has already posted asking for additional members. After a public hearing, the board also voted 5-0 to approve the change of manager for Bertucci’s Restaurant. 

The Select Board adjourned at 9:30 pm.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email