NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — New Town Manager James Tierney took the oath of office at the start of Monday’s regular meeting of the Narragansett Town Council, being sworn in by Council President Matthew Mannix.
The large audience in council chamber erupted in applause after Tierney’s “So help me God” finished the oath.
Tierney then stood at the table off to one side of the council dais where the manager, solicitor and clerk sit during the meetings and addressed the audience. He prefers facing everyone over standing at a lectern facing the council.
“Because we’re all part of the same community,” he said.
Tierney called the start of his tenure the beginning of a “new adventure,” and thanked Narragansett Police Chief and former acting Town Manager Sean Corrigan.
“His calm demeanor should be an example for everyone in this room. He is a true gentleman,” Tierney said.
The council voted 4-0 Aug. 26 to hire Tierney, who has the support of all five council members. That unanimous vote “did not go unnoticed by the community,” he said.
Tierney, who was the chief of operations for RIPTA since 2014, said he was very happy that he applied for the manager’s position and that the town chose him.
“I could say I’m as happy as a seagull with a French fry in Galilee, a place that holds so many great childhood memories for me,” he said.
He called the outpouring of support from the community “overwhelming and encouraging.”
Local attorney Maria Mulroy has known Tierney professionally since the 1990s, when he was a prosecution officer in South Kingstown’s police department and she worked with the attorney general’s office.
“To Jim I say, success will come and go, but integrity is forever,” she said. “When I think of integrity, I think of Jim.”
Jack Donohue, a chief of police in New York City, spoke at Monday’s meeting.
“I’ve known Jim almost 30 years, almost a lifetime,” he said. “Some would say that’s too long.”
Donohue listed some of Tierney’s attributes that made him the perfect fit for his prior jobs in New York and at RIPTA. They include compassion for others, the ability to earn respect from colleagues and even those he investigated, and a spirit of cooperation that helped him in talks with employee unions and other diverse groups.
“Which leads me to the conclusion that he is the right person for you,” Donohue said.
Tierney succeeds Corrigan, who stepped into the manager’s role in February when former manager James Manni departed to become head of the Rhode Island State Police. Manni had been a retired state police officer.
Tierney, who has been a town resident for 27 years, brings to the position 36 years of experience, including as inspector general for the City of New York’s Department of Investigation from 2011 to 2013. In that role, he was responsible for “investigating corruption, fraud, wrongdoing, gross mismanagement and/or waste involving city agencies,” according to his resume. He oversaw a team of 40 investigators that had oversight of many of the largest agencies in New York City.
“What I took away from that position was the importance of transparency in government, and the importance of being guided by industry best standards, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” he said.
He began his 28 years with the South Kingstown police as a patrolman and worked his way through the department to become assistant patrol commander, prosecution division commander, head of the detectives division and lastly a patrol commander, from 2009 to 2011. As a patrolman, he received a commendation for thwarting an armed home invasion where all of the suspects were arrested and convicted.
The council reviewed 26 applications and interviewed five finalists for the position before choosing Tierney.
“We were very happy he agreed to join the town staff in this role, and he’s already off to a great start,” Mannix said.
The town plans to hold a public “meet and greet” event with Tierney at 6 p.m. Sept. 23 at the North Beach Clubhouse, Mannix said.