HAMILTON — The town clerk's office in Hamilton, left unstaffed by the resignation of Andrea Dello Russo and the promotion of her assistant to a new role in the town's government, will reopen on a full-time basis Monday after weeks of limited hours, the town manager said on Thursday.
Sharon George, who spent 13 years as town clerk in Wilmington before retiring last year, will serve as a part-time interim town clerk for Hamilton starting on Monday, Town Manager Joseph Domelowicz said. George will work 20 to 24 hours a week. Her rate of pay was not immediately clear.
The town has also hired a new administrative assistant for the office to replace Leticia Correia-Barreira, who is moving to the town's Finance Director’s office, Domelowicz said.
Domelowicz also said he and the Board of Selectmen have decided to replace longtime town counsel Donna Brewer with a Boston firm, KPLaw, that specializes in municipal law.
The town has also promoted Margaret "Peggy" McLoughlin to the position of treasurer/collector.
John Speidel, current assistant assessor for Swampscott, will join the town as director of assessments for the town of Hamilton on July 22.
Both of those positions were left vacant by retirements.
But the departure of Dello Russo came under different circumstances.
Her resignation came with nearly a year left in her term as elected town clerk, amid a dispute over whether criticism by a now-former selectman of her job performance had risen to the level of harassment.
Former Selectman Allison Jenkins had publicly raised a number of what she saw as problems, including Dello Russo certifying nomination papers by signing the name of a 94-year-old town resident, failing to let the Board of Selectmen know that there were vacancies on the Board of Registrars, and discrepancies between the town census and the town assessor's records.
She also questioned Dello Russo's attendance, her decision to take 20 weeks of maternity leave without telling town officials when she would return, and her apparent unwillingness to record her hours in the town's payroll system.
Dello Russo, in a letter that was read to the board in open session on April 9, said she believed that errors she had acknowledged making were being overblown and that she was being harassed by Jenkins. She also filed a complaint against Jenkins with the town.
"The Town Clerk's office operates at a fast pace on a daily basis and errors, as you all know can occur to each and every one of us from time to time," Dello Russo wrote in the letter. "In this particular case I was following the guidelines set forth by my predecessor, and to whom I relied on for training. At no time was I made aware that the steps and approach were not in line with proper policy or procedure issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
The dispute has touched off a discussion as to whether to again attempt to make the position of town clerk an appointed one rather than an elected position.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.