Longtime South Hadley town clerk steps into interim role in Deerfield

  • CARLENE HAMLIN

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2022 9:44:38 PM

DEERFIELD — As the town awaits the Legislature’s approval to split its town clerk/treasurer/collector role into two positions, Carlene Hamlin has stepped into an interim town clerk role as election season continues.

Hamlin, who spent a quarter-century as South Hadley’s town clerk, recently retired from that position, but soon found another opportunity to serve in Deerfield.

“I loved it and anticipated that I was going to take the summer off and take a breath,” Hamlin said. “This kind of presented itself. … I thought I would reach out and see if I could be of service.”

Deerfield’s longtime Town Clerk/Treasurer/Collector Barbara Hancock resigned last December to pursue a position elsewhere. In the wake of her resignation, the Selectboard appointed Sarah Kimball as interim treasurer/collector and Assistant Town Clerk Jennifer Wallace as the interim town clerk. With the addition of Hamlin, Kimball will continue as interim treasurer/collector and Wallace will return to being assistant town clerk.

Deerfield’s system of combining the three jobs into one role is unusual, with only one other town in the state having a similar position.

Voters at April’s Annual Town Meeting approved an article to request that the Legislature allow the position to be split tinto a town clerk and treasurer/collector. At one point in the town’s history, Deerfield requested the Legislature allow the position to be appointed, which is why the town needs permission to split it in two.

“As a town clerk, that responsibility unto itself adheres to almost 500 laws, never mind coupling that with what treasurers and collectors do,” Hamlin said. “Those really shouldn’t meet because some are accountable to each other. I think in the old days it was probably OK.”

In an email, Town Administrator Kayce Warren said “there has been no word” on the special legislation submitted by the town, and that Hamlin will help guide Deerfield through the election season.

“Hamlin comes to us with a wealth of experience that we were fortunate to be able to find,” Warren said.

Along with her 25 years of experience in South Hadley, Hamlin also serves as the sole western Massachusetts representative on the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association’s Legislative Committee. With all of that in hand, Hamlin said she is hopeful that she can help train Deerfield’s new town clerk, whenever that hire is made.

“Municipal government is a challenge these days,” Hamlin said, adding that she is prepared to onboard her permanent replacement. “I’m helping them through a pretty aggressive election season and setting up shop, so when this does go through they’ll be ready to go.”

Hamlin has already helped run the Sept. 6 state primary election — the first run under the VOTES Act, a voting reform act signed into law in June — and she is now preparing for the general election on Nov. 8. Because of her time serving on the Legislative Committee, however, Hamlin said the challenge wasn’t as daunting for her.

“Every election you get butterflies,” she added. “Every election is an election, big or small.”

In taking on the position, Hamlin said she was drawn to Deerfield’s “character” and she was impressed by how quickly a team of poll workers came together.

“The residents I’ve met so far are kind, sincere and ready to serve. It just makes you feel so warm,” Hamlin said. “It’s neat to see people are engaged; they know exactly what their community is all about.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.
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