NORTH ADAMS — The city has a new clerk — the third person to hold the position this year.
After a heated debate in Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council, Joshua Vallieres was sworn in to the position.
Vallieres, a recent graduate of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, ran for mayor last year and later dropped out of the race. He was then elected to the School Committee and until Tuesday night, he was the city’s acting and assistant city clerk.
Six councilors voted to appoint him to city clerk, and two, Councilors Marie Harpin and Jennifer Barbeau, voted against. Vallieres replaces Marcus Lyon, who resigned in June. Lyon had succeeded Cathleen King, who left in February after about a year after replacing Deborah Pedercin.
A committee interviewed five people after reviewing more than 20 applications and unanimously voted to recommend Vallieres to the council for the job, Council President Lisa Blackmer said.
Though Harpin thought Vallieres was doing a good job in the clerk’s office, she emphasized the importance of having someone with more experience, particularly with an election to run in September.
“I do believe that we should go and re-post this again to increase the salary and hopefully get more applicants,” she said. The position is paid $55,872, according to the city budget.
A former city clerk will come train Vallieres, and the city will reach out to the state for possible help with the upcoming election, Mayor Jennifer Macksey told the council.
While it would have been great to have an applicant who has managed a city clerk’s office, Blackmer noted, “Mr. Vallieres is the only person who had actual experience with elections and the other tasks that have to be done in the office,” she said.
Several other councilors praised him for his work in the office.
“I’ve seen Josh’s willingness to learn,” said Councilor Peter Oleskiewicz, who noted he has seen Vallieres’ car in the City Hall parking lot at 5:30 a.m. “He’s doing the job of two people.”
Barbeau said she had concerns about the process. She asked why two candidates were not brought to the council for consideration, saying that is what a councilor on the committee had stated would happen.
Councilor Wayne Wilkinson said he had hoped the group would have two candidates to present, but Vallieres was the strongest candidate and a secondary choice did not make sense. If the city posted again for the job, there wouldn’t be enough time to find a new clerk before the election, he added, directing his comments to Harpin. “It makes no sense whatsoever other than you probably have a bug up your a--, pardon my language.”
“That was out of line,” Blackmer said.
“Pardon me, I apologize,” Wilkinson said. “But there’s two counselors here that are constantly putting (up) roadblocks. ... Somebody sooner or later has got to say something so I’m gonna say this council needs to work together and not have two members put roadblocks same every time we want to do something.”
Councilors should be able to state their opinions, Harpin said.
“Nine of us were elected. There’s nine people that see things in nine different sets of eyes,” she said. “Each one of us have the opportunity to state how we feel.”
Vallieres is the best candidate, Oleskiewicz said.
“So why we have to go through this deliberation the way we are tonight? And to be quite frank and honest, we know why we are on our fourth city clerk this time, I mean this, this is unprecedented in two terms, we’re going to our fourth city clerk because of the toxicity that lies in this council.”