WESTFORD — After 14 and a half years of service, a successor has been chosen to take the reins from Town Manager Jodi Ross.
Kristen Las, Shrewsbury’s assistant town manager of community development and health and human services was selected to succeed Ross. Board members voted and signed Las’ contract and gave a farewell to Ross during a Dec. 27 meeting.
Westford Assistant Town Manager Eric Heideman and Tyngsborough Town Administrator Matthew Hanson were also finalists for Ross’ position.
Her term is slated to begin on Feb. 1, with Ross serving as acting town manager through January.
Who is Kristen Las?
For over 12 years, Las has served the Town of Shrewsbury. She began her career as town planner in 2010, later transitioning to assistant town manager in 2015. She currently oversees planning and development, as well as a number of projects and departments, such as veterans services and the health department.
Las, who grew up in Groton, noted she spent “frequent” time in Westford, either ski racing at Nashoba Valley Ski Area and Kimball Farm. Las now lives in Boylston with her husband Eric as well as their two children, where they enjoy a number of outdoor activities.
“We enjoy going on our boat in the summer, we enjoy skiing as a family and hiking and being outdoors in the winter. We enjoy gardening in our yard,” she told WestfordCAT.
Las earned her master’s degree in community development and urban planning from Clark University, where she uses her expertise to define how government can serve its constituents.
Las remains optimistic for new role
Las noted similarities between Westford and Shrewsbury, including a AAA bond rating between each town, excellent school systems and residents who are “very engaged and care deeply” for their communities.
She continued, “[Westford] is a great place to start and grow a business.”
Las will be responsible for Westford’s approximately $126.6 million operating budget, an approximately $6.7 million capital budget, as well as assisting with Town Meeting on March 25.
Her role will pay between $210,000 and $230,000, according to a Municipal Resources Inc job listing.
Las shared expressed cautious optimism on a number of challenges she may face in Westford, including working with private utility companies. Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations, or SELCO, is Shrewsbury’s publicly owned and maintained utility company.
“Shrewsbury has its own utility and electric company, so working with the private companies will be a little different,” she said. “Westford does not have sewers, Shrewsbury does, so I see that as a challenge to attract business as well. But I want to work to see if that’s a desire to extend sewers in the future.”
Las hopes to remain approachable and available to residents, board members and employees as she transitions into her new role.
“I’m very open as a person and like when people come in to talk,” she said. “I want people to know that I’m approachable and looking forward to getting to know everyone.”
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