Town clerk passes torch to assistant in Northfield


For the Recorder

Published: 08-02-2023 10:59 AM

NORTHFIELD — After a year of training, Assistant Town Clerk Amanda Lynch has moved into the town clerk position held by her mentor Dan Campbell, who is retiring after 10 years in the role.

As assistant town clerk, Lynch, 33, learned how to “shift gears midstream” while juggling the clerk’s numerous responsibilities, Campbell said. He described appointing Lynch as “a no-brainer.”

“People don’t realize that without a town clerk, no business can get done by the town. The town clerk signs pretty much everything and is the overseer of different committees, making sure they’re following different regulations and the law,” Campbell, 72, said of the job that involves handling voting, keeping vital records, overseeing town censuses and other records-related work. “No two days are alike. Whatever you’ve planned on doing one day, don’t plan on doing that.”

After working at several office jobs, including the corporate office of C&S Wholesale Grocers and a travel agency, Lynch described the unpredictability of the role as a breath of fresh air.

“I like the flexibility of doing different things at different times of the year … so this is a good balance for me,” she told Selectboard members during their June 27 meeting, when she was appointed as town clerk, effective July 20.

With Campbell as her “invaluable” mentor, Lynch also learned the ins and outs of running town elections, which is an “ever-evolving” role of the town clerk, according to Campbell. He said his collaboration with Lynch greased the wheels for Northfield’s transition to vote-by-mail, as well as an electronic voter check-in and verification process.

“Vote-by-mail was a big change that happened for town clerks, but I hadn’t done it the other way, so I feel lucky that I just was able to learn it this way,” Lynch said.

Lynch has also been serving as a temporary assistant town clerk in Leyden since September 2022. During their Monday meeting, Leyden Selectboard members discussed externally posting the employment ad for town clerk.

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In addition to organizing local elections, Lynch hopes to continue using new technology like Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets and files to “make things more efficient.”

Campbell told the Selectboard on June 27 that Lynch is “more competent at spreadsheets than I am at creating them. … In the short period of time that she’s here, she’s probably saved the town at least $2,000 to $3,000 in the things that she’s actually brought and worked on here.”

Though organizing information and sifting through historical records partly convinced Lynch to commute to Northfield from her home in Brattleboro, Vermont, she and Campbell agree on the aspect of the role they appreciate most: the people.

“I really enjoy when everyone in Northfield comes in for different things,” Lynch said. “As Dan used to say, ‘We’re the first door on the right,’ so we get everything when people come in.”

“It’s a big huge family,” Campbell added.

He said he tried to retire three times but stayed longer “because I was going to leave the town unprepared.”

“Only when I saw how well Amanda was adjusting and working on it that I felt comfortable that I could say ‘OK, yes, I can finally take a step back,’” Campbell said.

Although Campbell is retiring as town clerk to “cut back a little bit more and do some more gardening and golfing,” he is not stepping away from the town altogether.

“I’m trying to keep my head in the game,” said Campbell, who will continue serving as chair of the Finance Committee, a board he’s been involved with for 19 years. “I’m always available if someone needs to talk to me as far as that, and who knows, I might come back as the assistant town clerk.”