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Clarke cites demands of private life, post in Deerfield selectman resignation

DEERFIELD — Selectman Elizabeth Clarke is stepping down from public office because of the demands in her private life and of the job, she said Friday.

“At this point, given the other demands in my life, some of which have arisen since I was elected to the Board of Selectmen, and the current dynamics of the board, it has become increasingly clear that the best thing for me, and for the town, is to step down so that someone who can devote more time and energy to the office can take my place,” said Clarke in a statement to The Recorder.

Clarke announced her resignation late Thursday night to fellow selectmen Mark Gilmore and Ness. She will stay on the job until May 1. The town will have to set up a special election. Clarke served two years of her three-year term that will be up in 2014.

“It has been an interesting and rewarding experience to serve on the Deerfield Board of Selectmen and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in public service and making a difference for the town,” said Clarke. “It provides the opportunity to make a difference in government at a very accessible level. When I ran for this office, I fully intended to serve at least one full term, if not longer.

“I apologize for any disruption it may cause, and sincerely hope that someone who cares as deeply about Deerfield as I do will step forward to run for the position.”

Clarke’s resignation was unexpected for the town.

“It was a surprise,” said Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness. “It will be hard to find someone to replace her.”

In 2011, Ness lobbied for Clarke to run for the seat vacated by John Paciorek. Clarke was a newcomer to the town, a resident of only five years at the time.

The small business lawyer was someone Ness predicted would be good for the Board of Selectmen.

“I asked Beth to run because she seemed liked she always cared for the community,” Ness said. “She seemed like a person who would always be thoughtful and prepared. She was always willing to put in effort.”

Town Administrator Bernie Kubiak said the position requires a big time commitment.

“It does disrupt your family and life and it takes a person who takes the position seriously, which Ms. Clarke did,” Kubiak said.

Though Clarke will no longer serve on the board, she volunteered to finish the work she started, including the review of the town bylaws.

“I appreciate everything she’s done. She was always ready to tackle the town bylaws and worked hard to get the town garage project going. I’m very appreciative of her contributions,” Ness said.

Selectman Mark Gilmore could not be reached for comment.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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