A New Role for Former Police Chief

Grace Allen
Issue Date: 
May, 2018
Article Body: 

It seems retirement was not all it was cracked up to be for James Anderson. Wrentham’s former police chief and interim town administrator is now the town’s newest selectman.
“If you had told me a year ago that after retiring I’d stay on as the interim town administrator and eventually go into politics, I would have thought you were crazy,” admitted Anderson, who served in the police department for 38 years.
Wrentham held its annual town election on April 2, and Anderson was elected to the board of selectmen, along with incumbent Jerry McGovern, for a three-year term.
After Anderson announced his retirement from the police department last fall, he was approached by the board of selectmen and asked to serve as interim town administrator when the former town administrator, Bill Ketchum, retired. Anderson’s stint in town hall lasted until Kevin Sweet was hired earlier this year.
Anderson so enjoyed the experience that he began to think a career in politics might be fun, and decided to run for the board of selectmen.
The transition from police chief to acting town administrator was seamless, said Anderson, who is 59 years old.
“You use the same types of leadership and management skills in both jobs,” he said. “Resolving conflicts, dealing with crises, finding solutions were all part of my life in police work. I thought those skills transferred well to the town administrator’s job. And I actually see those types of skills will serve me well as a member of the board of selectmen.”
Anderson believes the town is financially well-run, but thinks more economic development would be beneficial for Wrentham.
“Our biggest problem is a revenue problem, so I’d like to see development that would bring some substantial revenue to the town,” he said. “At the same time, I want some controlled growth. I think it’s important to keep the rural character of the town in place as much as possible.”
Anderson, who grew up in Wrentham, believes the town’s attributes make it distinctive in the state.
“It’s a great town,” he said. “It’s got a great school system. I think it’s got a great safety department and recreation department. It has that New England charm going for it, with a beautiful common that’s in use by so many groups. Wrentham is also somewhat unique with the three lakes in town, and a town beach and boat landing.”
He thought enough of his hometown to put down roots and raise his own family here, he added.
Anderson’s commitment to Wrentham is obvious. And as for that retirement, he is scaling back from working 65 hours a week to a more manageable 12 to 15 hours a week. He’ll still have time for some travel, golf, and house projects.
“Fortunately, I can fit those things in with this job,” said Anderson. “I’ll make it work. I always have.”