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Malden picks former MBTA CFO Davis as treasurer

From left, Transportation Secretary Richard Davey and Acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis during a press conference in which they attributed last week's Green Line MBTA accident at Boylston Station to a Green Line train operator who had not slept between his shift for the MBTA and an overnight shift on a second job. JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE (Metro, Moskowitz)
Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe/File 2012
Former acting MBTA general manager Jonathan Davis (right) with former state transportation secretary Richard Davey.

A six-month search for Malden’s new treasurer ended Tuesday night, when the City Council hired former MBTA chief financial officer Jonathan Davis over Neil Kinnon, a former council colleague.

The 6-5 vote for Davis was taken about 10 minutes into the meeting, with newly elected Councilor David Camell – who now holds the Ward 6 seat Kinnon resigned in June — broke a deadlock on the panel by opting for Davis.

“I’d like to thank my fellow city councilors for letting me start on an easy night,” Camell joked during his first meeting before announcing who would receive his vote. “Mr. Davis is experienced running a public sector entity that has significant customer service-facing responsibilities.”

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Camell, who said he was impressed by how Davis reconstructed debt at the MBTA, also said none of the “negativity that has swirled around the process” informed his decision.

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That negativity was described by several councilors during a Nov. 1 meeting at which the then-10 members reached a 5-5 impasse between Davis and Kinnon after holding second interviews with them and the third finalist, mutual funds manager Daniel Grover.

“I would like to talk about the process a little bit, some of the things that have gone on,” said Councilor at Large David D’Arcangelo — who was voted out of office Nov. 7 — during that meeting. “Some of those [things] included people going through my trash, people berating my wife at the supermarket, people berating me at various events.”

The city has been looking for a treasurer who could possibly be promoted to CFO since May, when former treasurer Mark Good left Malden for a job as collector/treasurer in Norwood.

The salary ranges Malden offered are $120,394 to $132,903 for CFO/treasurer, and $85,475 to $111,638 for treasurer/collector, according to Malden’s Human Resources department. The council’s Finance Committee will negotiate terms with Davis.

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Davis, who lives in Medford and will be 70 in March, was with the MBTA for over 20 years as acting general manager, deputy general manager, and CFO before retiring in 2015. Prior to that, he was vice president and controller at HP Hood, where he worked for 23 years.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Davis said he felt good about the new job. “I look forward to it, it’s a new experience, and I look forward to learning new things, especially how a municipality operates,” Davis said.

Councilors voted to begin the process of salary negotiations as soon as possible, and recommend Mayor Gary Christenson fund both the treasurer and CFO positions.

Kinnon, the director of Financial Systems North America at the records management company Iron Mountain, and chairman of the board of trustees at the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, resigned from his Ward 6 post on the council on June 29.

Before Kinnon publicly confirmed he applied for the City Hall job, Councilor Ryan O’Malley sought guidance from the state Ethics Commission about the propriety of city councilors applying for municipal positions overseen by the City Council. The commission said a city councilor may be elected by that council to a municipal job 30 days after resigning the elected position.

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Mystic Valley – located in Malden — drew international attention in May because of the school’s policy that punished primarily African-American students for wearing hair braid extensions. The board of trustees suspended the policy after Attorney General Maura Healey said it was discriminatory.

In his interview on Nov. 1, Kinnon said his social media comments opposing multiculturalism were misunderstood in Malden, a city where more than half the approximately 60,000 residents speak a language other than English at home, according to the latest US Census estimates.

Sean Teehan can be reached at spteehan@gmail.com.