Interviewing Reta Goss, who retired this week after 46 years as town clerk in Warren got us thinking about the enormous wealth of institutional knowledge she will take with her when she goes and then subsequently led to the realization that all the folks who staff our town offices create an incredible glue that holds our communities together.
We absolutely need all of our public servants including those who plow our roads and those who deliver our mail, those who drive our school buses and those who serve on town boards and commissions. But we ask and expect very specific things from our town administrators, treasurers, town clerks, and zoning administrators, etc.
Those things are incredibly specific: understand the nuance and intent of zoning regulations as well as the history of what led to changes; understand budget decisions, current and past spending priorities; understand and execute proper recording and preservation of town records; understanding and updating Grand Lists (knowing what the Grant List is!). The list is long.
As Goss leaves office and at least one other local longterm town clerk contemplates her retirement, it’s apparent that we are well-served by the steady consistency, knowledge, and experience that so many years of service provides us. Having lived and worked through years and years of town business makes these folks uniquely qualified when it comes to how our towns run and what makes them work.
Some of these public servants are elected and some are appointed, but all of them care about their towns and their communities. It would be pretty difficult to do these jobs if you didn’t care and if good local government didn’t matter to you.
We are so lucky to have this cadre of dedicated and responsive people keeping our towns running. It is so refreshing to call seeking information or assistance and have our calls returned and the info or help forthcoming. That level of responsiveness is not found at the national level (ever tried to call the IRS?) and to a lesser degree at the state level -- although state government is very responsive compared to the federal government.
Congratulations to Goss and thanks to all who keep the wheels of local government turning.