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Three finalists emerge for Town Clerk

November 26, 2015

The Walpole Board of Selectmen will choose Monday among one longtime Town Hall employee, and two outsiders to replace outgoing Town Clerk Ron Fucile when he retires at the end of this year.

Assistant Town Clerk Liz Gaffey, Assistant Foxborough Town Clerk Pamela Riccio, and Norton Town Clerk Danielle Sicard will be interviewed for the position by Selectmen at a special meeting Monday.

Gaffey has worked for the town of Walpole since 1999, serving in various departments primarily in clerical roles. She lives in Walpole and also serves as a Precinct 4 Town Meeting Representative and Capital Budget Committee member. She also won an upset victory for a Planning Board seat in June, thanks in part to the surprise endorsements of Selectmen Chairman Cliff Snuffer and The Walpole Times. Her educational background is in nursing.

If selected for the job, it would represent a meteoric rise for Gaffey in the span of less than one year. She has been Assistant Town Clerk for less than two months, taking over for Patricia MacConnell who retired and relocated out of town. The Assistant Town Clerk position, the highest-paid position in the Town Hall clerical union, was only posted to internal applicants, per union rules, and Gaffey was the only one who sought the job. Immediately prior to becoming Assistant Town Clerk, as recently as September, she worked as Staff Assistant in the Building Inspector’s office.

Riccio, a Mansfield resident, has served as Assistant Town Clerk in Foxborough since 2013, prior to which she worked for two years as that town’s Elections and Registrations Clerk. She also worked for more than two decades in the private sector, including as a paralegal and administrative assistant at various companies. She graduated from Newbury College in 2009 with an associate’s degree in paralegal studies.

Sicard, a Norton resident, has served as Norton Town Clerk since 2010, a role that includes running the town’s website. During her tenure, Sicard has made technological upgrades and changes at the Town Clerk’s office, including adding functionality to the town website to allow residents to apply for dog, birth, and death licenses online, and also request voter records online. Prior to serving as Town Clerk, she worked for eight years for the Attleboro YMCA, first as Associate Executive Director and then as Operations Manager. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Mathematics from Rhode Island College.

Interestingly, none of the three contenders seem to precisely meet the education requirements set for the job by Selectmen and the Personnel Board. The job description requires requests as “desirable qualifications,” at minimum, an associate’s degree in business management or records management “or a closely related field, plus three to five years of related experience.” Neither Gaffey nor Sicard appear to meet the education degree requirement, while Riccio has a two-year degree that may just barely be related to “business management or records management.”

Some Town Hall observers had privately initially criticized the job description for its seemingly obscure educational requirement that didn’t seem to be similar to that of many other towns’ Town Clerk job descriptions. There are virtually no reputable, non-online only schools that offer “Business Management” or “Records Management” degrees, so the requirement seemed bizarre.

The original job description did not require the Town Clerk to currently be or become certified, but the Personnel Board added a provision that requires the Town Clerk to become certified within four years of the hire date. The original job description also required that the Town Clerk reside in Walpole, on the grounds that the Town Clerk, by state law, also serves as a Registrar of Voters and all the Registrars are intended to be town voters. But the Personnel Board removed the residency requirement after receiving legal clarification from the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office that even if the Town Clerk is a Registrar, they do not have to be a resident and legal voter of the town.

Sicard is the only one of the three applicants who is presently certified as a Town Clerk.

The three finalists emerged out of a field that initially included 15 applicants but was whittled down to six to be interviewed by a screening committee made up of Fucile, Town Administrator Jim Johnson, Assistant Town Administrator Tom Gregory, Personnel Coordinator Val Donohue, Selectmen Jim Stanton and Mark Gallivan, and former Town Clerk Ted Hoegler.

Although Fucile worked part-time, Town Meeting voted in October to appropriate funding to make the job full-time starting after his retirement, with a minimum pay of $65,916.

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