Manchester welcomes new town clerk
By Patrick McArdle
Staff Writer | June 19,2014
Patrick McArdle/Staff Photo
Anita Sheldon, who had been assistant town clerk in Manchester, was named town clerk on Monday by the Select Board. Sheldon is succeeding Linda Spence, who died June 7, and who hired and trained Sheldon.
MANCHESTER — Anita Sheldon, who had been assistant town clerk under the late Linda Spence, has been appointed to serve as town clerk until next year, when she plans to run for the office.
Sheldon, 27, who is from Manchester, has been assistant town clerk since September 2009.
She was hired and trained by Spence, 59, who died June 7 after almost 18 years as town clerk.
Town Manager John O’Keefe said the Select Board had a special meeting Monday to appoint a new clerk. The vote was unanimous.
Selectman Wayne Bell, board vice chairman, said the members were proud to appoint Sheldon to the position.
“She’s great. She’s really done a nice job in transition so far,” he said. “We’re very pleased that we had her at a time when we could have literally been upside down (after Spence’s death.)”
Spence’s term of office would have expired in March 2015. Sheldon said she plans to run for the next three-year term after serving out the current term.
Sheldon said she wished she had become town clerk under different circumstances, but said the succession came up when she interviewed for the assistant job five years ago.
“I had no idea what the job entailed and even writing a job description now to try to get an assistant in here, it’s like, ‘Wow! I’m glad I didn’t know to begin with,’” Sheldon said.
Sheldon said she couldn’t have had a better teacher and mentor than Spence.
“It was a great environment. Linda made coming to work fun,” Sheldon said. “We obviously had our days where we couldn’t talk because it was so busy. She made it like a second home.”
The town clerk’s post is an important one in Vermont. Among the duties are keeping municipal land records, vital records such as birth and death certificates. issuing dog and hunting licenses, renewing vehicle registrations, registering voters and running elections and providing general assistance to members of the public.
During her five years as an assistant, Sheldon said, she’s come to enjoy the “constant contact” with people who visit the office.
“There’s challenges that you face on a daily basis,” she said. “Answering the phone, you never know what to expect. You have to expect the unexpected.”
Sheldon said she will continue her education and training, working with the Vermont Municipal Clerks and Treasurers Association, the New England Association of City and Town Clerks and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.
She plans to become a certified Vermont clerk, which involves a three-year program she expects to start in July 2015, and hopes to go on to earn a master municipal clerk designation.
One of the challenges of the job, and one of the things that makes it attractive, is that there is always more to learn to keep up with the changes in state law, Sheldon said.
Sheldon said Wednesday she was grateful for the “outpouring of support” from Manchester residents, other town employees and members of the clerk association who are all working to get through the grieving process and continue with the business of the clerk’s office.
Hours at the office will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, which Sheldon said will be in line with the hours town hall is open.