Covering Louisiana

Jul 24, 2014 2:31 PM by associated press

Metropolitan Planning Commission

The Shreveport Metropolitan Planning Commission has chosen a new executive director, but their top candidate wants some time to think through the offer before he accepts.

Board member Bessie Smith tells The Times the city and parish planning board offered the job to Robert Massarelli of Titusville, Florida, on Wednesday.

"With his knowledge of our Master Plan, ideas and strategies, he has a lot to bring to the table," Smith said. Massarelli beat 47 applicants who applied for the position acting Executive Director Stephen Jean currently fills. Jean took over after former Director Charles Kirkland retired from the post.

The board member said Massarelli communicated that he wanted to discuss the offer with his wife and also received another job offer for a position with the same pay.

She said he intends to notify the MPC chairman of his discussion by 10 a.m. Friday. If Massarelli turns down the MPC's offer, the board is prepared to extend an offer to Mark W. Sweeney of Austin, Texas. The board unanimously voted Sweeney as the No. 2 candidate. Both men were presented with benefit packages.

MPC Chairman Lea Desmarteau said she understands Massarelli's need to think about accepting the position.

"I didn't take it as a negative at all," said Desmarteau, who works in the private sector." He said to me 'You see? I don't make off-the-cuff decisions.'"

Desmarteau said she questioned Massarelli about his other job offer. He told her Shreveport was not a second choice and that the salary and benefits package were competitive.

Massarelli and Sweeney were among a group of four candidates brought to Shreveport and Caddo Parish to meet the community and have in-person interviews.

"I felt like he was the best because he answered all the questions that we confronted him with," Smith said. "He was just the right person for the job."

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