Published January 22, 2020


LYNNFIELD — A new town clerk will begin next month.

The Board of Selectmen voted 2-0 to appoint Rockport Assistant Town Clerk Linda Emerson as Lynnfield’s next clerk on Jan. 14. Selectman Dick Dalton was unable to attend the meeting because he and his wife, Carmela, were being recognized for their efforts fighting substance abuse through the Think of Michael Foundation.

Emerson will begin her Lynnfield tenure in early February. She will succeed former Town Clerk Trudy Reid, who left Lynnfield last month after agreeing to become North Andover’s next clerk.

Town Administrator Rob Dolan said the town received 20 applications for the town clerk job and six candidates were interviewed. He named Emerson and Melrose Assistant City Clerk Melissa Ripley as the two finalists for the job.

“They are both exceptional candidates for this position,” said Dolan. “I feel both are very capable to live up to the high standards set by Trudy. I think the board will have a difficult decision.”

Both candidates answered a variety of different questions from the selectmen.

Appointed next town clerk

Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford asked Emerson why she decided to apply for the Lynnfield town clerk job and why she would be a good fit for the position.

“I have worked for a municipality for 28 years,” said Emerson. “I have worked in various offices during the time I have been there. I worked in the town clerk’s office before going to the assessor’s office, but the town clerk’s office is always where I wanted to be. When I had the opportunity to go back, I did. One of my goals was to get my associate’s degree, which I did in 2017. And my second goal was to become a certified town clerk, and I accomplished that goal. When the opportunity to apply for the Lynnfield job opened up, I thought this was the perfect time to go for it. I am so excited to start this journey as a town clerk. I have been the assistant town clerk in Rockport since 2011, and this seems like a good fit.”

Selectman Chris Barrett asked Emerson about her management style and working with people.

Emerson said she is “welcoming and kind to everyone” who comes into Rockport Town Hall.

“When people come into town hall, they are there for things they don’t want to be doing such as paying tax bills or questioning their assessments,” said Emerson. “So right away, they are feeling they are going to come up against some opposition. I try to be welcoming to everyone.”

Barrett asked Emerson if she has experience working at town meetings.

Emerson said Rockport is similar to Lynnfield in that both North Shore communities have two town meetings each year, taking place in the spring and fall.

“I have been doing town meetings for a long, long time,” said Emerson. “In my capacity as assistant town clerk, I take the notes, record the votes and I do all of the PowerPoint presentations for all of the boards and committees. I am there for the moderator. Recently, the moderator and town clerk each had a conflict, so I actually got to moderate an article. It was actually kind of exhilarating. I really enjoy town meetings.”

Crawford asked Emerson about her experience overseeing elections and what initiatives has she undertaken to ensure elections are fair and equitable.

“Massachusetts General Law governs elections,” said Emerson. “And I am by the book, so that is what is going to happen. I also want to make sure that everyone who is eligible to vote can vote. Sometimes you will have people come who thought they were registered to vote, but weren’t. We have a plan for that, which is a provisional ballot. Last October, I was lucky to do the entire election for an override question. The town clerk handed it over and let me create the ballot, create the warrant, post it and test the machines. I did it all. That was a great learning lesson.”

Barrett asked Emerson about her experience handling public record requests.

Emerson said Rockport utilizes an automated system for record requests. While she does not handle public record requests because Rockport Town Clerk Patricia Brown is in charge of that responsibility, Emerson said she was willing to “step up and learn that process.”

Crawford asked Emerson what her top two accomplishments are as Rockport’s assistant town clerk.

Emerson said she is very proud that she became a certified town clerk. She was also proud of the fact that Rockport’s town clerk office is “very streamlined as far as vital records.”

“It’s all online for us so you don’t have to run down to the vault to get a record, and then copy it or type it,” said Emerson. “It’s handy and accessible. It’s right there at your fingertips.”

After both interviews concluded, Crawford said he thought Emerson was the right person for the job.

“These are both excellent candidates,” said Crawford. “I think they bring a lot to the table. I believe Linda has more experience with Town Meeting and Town Elections, and that is the way I am leaning.”

Barrett said he preferred Emerson instead of Ripley because of her experience working at Rockport’s town meeting.

“I think both candidates are excellent,” said Barrett. “I think Town Meeting is crucial and I know how challenging that can be. I think it’s important to have someone who has town meeting experience. I think this year’s April Town Meeting will be a very complicated Town Meeting. I think it’s important that we have a town clerk who can hit the ground running.”

After the discussion, Crawford and Barrett both voted to appoint Emerson as Lynnfield’s next town clerk.

Emerson informed the Villager she accepted the job.

“I am honored and excited to be Lynnfield’s new town clerk,” she said.