Amherst town clerk resigns after just a year

  • Shavena Martin SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2020 9:40:00 PM

AMHERST — Amherst officials will be searching for a new town clerk for the second time since the summer of 2018.

Shavena Martin, appointed as Amherst’s town clerk in October 2019, recently submitted her resignation to Town Manager Paul Bockelman.

Martin wrote in an email that it has been an honor to serve Amherst and she was grateful for the opportunity to be the town’s “#madamclerk,” as she has referred to herself.

“I will be continuing my career in management and utilizing all the skills I acquired as town clerk,” Martin wrote.

Bockelman praised Martin for her tenure in the town clerk’s office. Her last official day with the town is Dec. 11. 

“Shavena was a terrific addition to our town staff, brought positive energy to our town hall, and deep experience with elections,” Bockelman said.

After she was selected for the position, Bockelman said Martin, who had worked as an election specialist in Springfield and done extensive outreach to voters in the community, would focus in Amherst on the design and implementation of ranked-choice voting for elections, standardize protocols for local elections, and assist with the 2020 census efforts.

“I respect her decision and clearly this is a loss for the town,” Bockelman said.

Before submitting her resignation, Martin was on an extended medical leave that has put Assistant Town Clerk Susan Audette in charge on an interim basis.

Martin’s departure means the town will have its third permanent town clerk in less than three years following the June 2018 retirement of Sandra Burgess, who was in the position for nearly 12 years.

Margaret Nartowicz, who succeeded Burgess, began her second tenure as town clerk in August 2018, before announcing in spring 2019 that she would be leaving to become the town of Berlin’s first town administrator.

Nartowicz expressed concern about the significant work she had to do as both town clerk and clerk to the newly formed Town Council that was created when Amherst changed its form of government. Since Nartowicz left, the clerk to the council duties have been delegated to Athena O’Keeffe.

Martin said there have been accomplishments over the past year, all done as a team that included Audette and Amber Martin, the management assistant.

Those successes included implementing online vital records requests and dog licensing, with assistance from the treasurer and information technology; conducting early voting in advance of the presidential primary in March and the presidential election in November; and moving voting for three precincts to Amherst Regional High School to allow people to safely vote in person.

Bockelman said the position will be posted as soon as possible. He recently filled two positions with new hires, Donna Rae Kenneally as the human resources director and Emma Dragon as the health director.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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