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Northfield Town Clerk leaves for Greenfield

NORTHFIELD — After 14 years as town clerk, Gail Zukowksi is leaving Town Hall.

“I’m going to miss it, but in the same breath, I’m excited,” said Zukowski, whose resignation is effective Thursday.

Zukowski has taken a job as assistant town clerk of Greenfield, which she will start in early June.

“This will be a whole new adventure, going from a town of about 3,000 to one of 18,000,” Zukowski said.

She said she will miss working in a small town where it’s easy to get to know her clientele, but she’s glad to be staying in the same vein of work she’s enjoyed for nearly 15 years.

“I love everything about the job,” she said. “I can’t pick just one thing.”

A former registered nurse, Zukowski became Northfield’s town clerk in 2000, after former clerk Mary Taferner decided not to seek re-election. Zukowski decided to run for the position after working beside Taferner.

“I came into her office and worked with her for about a month to see if it was a good fit,” said Zukowski. “That was all she wrote.”

She wants to pay it forward, by helping an interim clerk get acclimated to the job.

“I’d like to afford someone the same opportunity that I had,” she said.

Though she’s leaving Town Hall, Zukowski said she will continue living in Northfield, where she has made her home for nearly 20 years.

With a year left to Zukowski’s term, and news of her departure coming so soon before Tuesday’s annual town election, there was no time to seek candidates for the position.

The Selectboard will seek an interim town clerk to fill in until next year’s election. Though an elected town clerk must be a town resident, there is no residency requirement for the interim position.

Interim Town Administrator Robert Markel suggested that the town look into changing the position from elected to appointed, removing the residency restriction. In a town of about 3,000 residents, he said, there is a narrow pool of qualified candidates for the position.

“Finding a trained individual able to do everything the town clerk does will be a challenge,” said Markel. “The town clerk does a lot more than people might think. It’s not just selling dog licenses.”

The Selectboard asked Markel to help find candidates for interim clerk, by calling nearby town clerks, reaching out to the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association, and identifying retirees who may be interested in the temporary job.

Markel said it may also be possible to “borrow” a clerk from a nearby town, as long as the candidate can fulfill the duties of both towns.

If an out-of-town candidate takes the interim position, said Markel, removing the residency requirement would allow that person to become the permanent town clerk without moving to Northfield.

Selectboard Chairman John “Jack” Spanbauer said Zukowski will be hard to replace.

“Gail has always been an incredible resource,” he said. “She has often gone above and beyond her responsibilities. When people think of Town Hall, they think of Gail.”

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279 @RecorderRain

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