New Pittsfield City Clerk Jody Phillips back in familiar surroundings
PITTSFIELD — Jody Phillips is in a familiar place and she is enjoying herself.
Pittsfield's new (and also former) city clerk returned last week to the City Hall office she left seven years ago to take a job in the private sector. As of inauguration day, Jan. 4, she replaced Linda M. Tyer, who left the post to run successfully for mayor.
"Especially in the days leading up to the inauguration, I was really looking forward to it," Phillips said in an interview Friday. "It's been seven years since I've been gone. You know, it feels kind of like home, coming back."
Phillips began in city government in January 1992 as executive assistant to former Mayor Edward M. Reilly. In December 1998, she was appointed clerk to serve the remainder of Jacqueline Sacchetti's term when she retired, and Phillips was thereafter elected every two years, serving for 10 years in all.
In January 2009, Phillips left to accept a position at General Dynamics, leading to the appointment of Tyer.
And on Nov. 3, Phillips was elected without opposition to a new two-year term as clerk.
"There are some new procedures," she said of the office, "but the work that gets done is essentially the same. It's just that some things are getting done a little differently."
The office she inherited "is very organized," Phillips said. "It has been a smooth transition back in."
Among differences, she said, are computer-related changes like the posting of City Council meeting agendas electronically. Her first agenda, posted Thursday, was a hefty one as well, running to 211 pages.
"I can't say enough about the staff in the city clerk's office," Phillips said. "They have all been fantastic in helping me to navigate the changes since I've left and have helped make my first week back a great one."
Asked if she missed city government while working in the private sector, Phillips said working at General Dynamics "was a great experience to have," but she also kept her eye on the workings of city government.
"I was here for so many years — both in the clerk's office, and in the mayor's office before that — I did miss it," she said. "I always tried to stay aware of what was happening in the city. And then I started working with the Ordinance Review Committee [in 2014], which I enjoyed."
Coming back, "It's been an exciting first week," she said, "and I was ready to roll up my sleeves and go to work."
She said she's looking forward to working with the new mayor and council over the coming term. "There was a lot of positive energy, during the inauguration, which is a great start," she said.
Phillips said her first order of business, is to "get a refresher on all the procedures of the office," but she plans "no immediate long-term changes right now."
She added, "I would love to find a way to preserve some of the older [paper] records, maybe find some grant funds to preserve them. I think it's important to do that."
The city records include all vital records, such as birth, death and marriage documents, and records of all council proceedings. Ideally, Phillips said, the best format would be to have electronic records that could be easily searched, along with hard copy files stored in a climate-controlled area. But she said that would likely require grant funding to accomplish.
Since leaving the office in 2009, she said, "I had always remained interested in public service, staying up to date on matters happening in the city and also serving on its Ordinance Review Committee. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to return to the office."
During her first week back, she said, "I have enjoyed getting reacquainted with the office and reconnecting with the people in the building."
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