NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council has selected a former Drury High teacher to be its new city clerk.
The unanimous decision to offer the post to Cathleen King was made on Monday night.
King was a founder of the high school's alternative education program, the E3 Academy, in 2012. She's spent the last few years in Salem when her husband took a position of Salem State University.
"We are just trying to work our way back to getting to the North Adams area, we have a home in Clarksburg. And I was interested in the position because I have had a great interest in North Adams ever since I came to the area," she said.
"The people there have always been exceptionally friendly. I've always participated in the social events and things. I just think there's a wonderful vibe there."
King was one of 50 applicants for the post. The search committee initially spoke with eight candidates, three withdrew, and the field was narrowed down to King and Angela Brothers of Stamford, Vt., both of whom were publicly interviewed on Monday night.
The council commended the experiences of both candidates but felt that King had the skill set and demeanor to take on the difficult role overseeing the city's elections and vital records, and assisting the City Council.
King will replace Deborah Pedercini, who has taken a position as executive director of the Lee Housing Authority.
Several questions to King related to how her educational skills would translate to the clerk's office. She has been an educator in the humanities for 25 years, and holds a master's degree from Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She worked in New York State schools until joining the North Adams Public Schools in 2012. She is currently assistant to the head of school at Epstein Hillel School in Salem.
City Council President Paul Hopkins said only a few of the dozens of applicants had any experience as a municipal clerk.
"I've mentioned a few times I have a learning curve for this job," King said. "I've not worked as a city clerk, I've not had that kind of experience but I have worked in the office-style environment. I worked in business before I was a teacher so I was a teacher convert. I'm very organized and very solid at time management, and detail oriented."
King said she's responsible for a lot of organization in her current position and isn't afraid to take on new technology, noting she built a website for her side jewelry business.
"I find that intimidating as technology seems to be, sometimes I do pretty well with it once I get in there," she said.
The city clerk's job is a public service, King said, and the public should expect her to get them the information they need. If she doesn't know, she said she'd find it and get back to them.
"I'm really comfortable working with all different types of people I've had easygoing people, tough people, angry people, very happy people, all different types, come through the door for all different reasons to talk about parent-teacher conferences and you get different reactions there when you're talking about academic progress," King said, adding, "I have no problem being a neutral party politically. ... As for strong personalities, I deal with those on the daily, where I am now."
She said she's had to reinvent herself a few times over her career depending on the opportunities available and that she was looking for a place where she could fit in and contribute.
"That's why I said when I saw the opportunity opened up in North Adams, that North Adams was a place that just has really excited me since I got there and to be a bigger part of it was pretty interesting," King said.
The councilors (Councilors Jason LaForest and Jessica Sweeney were absent) did not spend much time in debating the candidates, both of whom had been interviewed previously by some councilors as part of the screening committee. Brothers' experience working in the municipal offices in Stamford were cited as a clear positive, along with her positive and friendly attitude, but King's background in office management and education won out, along with her cool tone and concise answers.
"What you see is what you get," she said.