Last night, the Board of Selectmen thanked Town Clerk Paul Berry for his more than 45 years of service. One selectmen previewed that this might not be the end of his public service to the Town.
Selectman Bonnie Phaneuf told the audience that she is trying to convince Berry to pull papers for another position in Town. She has even offered to serve as campaign manager.
Phaneuf said that Berry is waiting until after his upcoming vacation to decide.
Whether or not Berry pulls papers, his retirement this month marks the end of an era in town politics. This May, Southborough voters may have to choose a Town Clerk for the first time in 45 years.
Berry has served as Town Clerk since 1969. Since then, he has run unopposed.
According to selectmen, Berry is leaving the incoming Clerk big shoes to fill.
Last night, Berry was on the agenda to answer a question about the Town Clerk’s budget. Boland did ask a question about changes to the budget year-to-year. But he made it clear, it was just an excuse to get Berry to come to the meeting.
Boland stated that they knew it was the only way he’d allow the board to publicly thank him for his service.
In front of an audience that included Berry’s family, each selectmen offered Berry a personal thank you.
Chair Bill Boland stated that Berry had mentored many of Southborough’s town officials.
Selectman John Rooney called Paul Berry the face of Southborough, “not just because of longevity, but because of commitment and dedication to the town”.
Cimino referred to the Clerk’s office as run like a top. He thanked Berry not only for his service “but thanks for the way you in which you carry it out.”
Kolenda reminded Berry of his speech at the last Town Meeting. Berry vocally opposed an article that would have changed the Town Clerk position to an appointed one. Kolenda referred to the attention Berry received from the room and how other comments made it clear the Town loved him. He remarked, “It was great to see the accolades. . . rightfully bestowed upon you that night.
Phaneuf said that in her recent visit to the clerk’s office, “He was as warm and welcoming today as he was when I first met him, when I came in to the town hall to get my marriage license some 40+ yrs ago, and he will be greatly missed.”
Accepting the thanks, Berry quipped to the laughing board:
This is the first time I didn’t get really knocked down about my budget. So whoever the new Town Clerk is, don’t expect this.
Assistant Town Clerk will be interim Town Clerk upon Berry’s retirement this month. In January, selectmen indicated that several residents were interested in that post. So, Town Clerk could be a hotly contested seat this spring.