PEPPERELL -- Selectmen have unanimously voted to offer the job of town administrator to Newburyport Mayor John Moak. They plan to enter closed-door negotiations with Moak later this week.

Last night's vote considered both Moak and Jason Hoch, former administrator for the New Hampshire towns of Littleton and Plaistow.

Both men were at the top of a pool of candidates developed by a Search Committee. They were interviewed last week, after negotiations with Shirley Town Administrator Kyle Keady collapsed earlier this fall.

According to private comments from several Search Committee members, Pepperell would be well-served by either candidate.

Administrative Assistant Peggy Mazola has been acting as interim administrator while continuing to perform her duties as administrative assistant.

Selectmen Joseph Hallisey, Patrick McNabb and Joseph Sergi complimented Police Chief Alan Davis for conducting extensive background checks on both candidates, which were received yesterdays.

"For myself, it comes down to John (Moak) as a better fit for Pepperell," Hallisey said. "Both are extremely qualified. (Moak's) experience in Newburyport fits Pepperell issues -- a school was closed and revitalizing Town Hall."

McNabb lauded the qualifications of both candidates, saying "It boils down to who is best for Pepperell right now. Based on experience and positive feedback from the Newburyport City Council (regarding) strong fiscal budgeting and (having) a lot of drive ... (Moak) is someone who could step in right now."