Gomeau swears in Deborah Pedercini as the new city clerk.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Tuesday night's City Council was about welcoming new faces and bidding farewell to a veteran.
City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau played a large role in the welcoming at her last official City Council meeting, giving the oaths to new firefighters, police officers and clerks.
Gomeau, who has served as city clerk for 15 years, choked up as she swore in her replacement, Deborah Pedercini. She also swore in the new assistant city clerk, Cathy Verrier, who had been the secretary in the Community Development Office.
The councilors who appointed her are no longer serving, she said. "But I do remember Councilor [Ronald] Boucher saying on that night I had very big shoes to fill."
Gomeau credited her predecessor, Mary Ann Abuisi, who taught her the ropes and recommended her for the post, and her team in the clerk's office.
"Because of her, I had the opportunity to become city clerk and become a good city clerk," she told the gathering. "I served through 27 councilors, seven presidents and three mayors. And it was a good run."
Mayor Thomas Bernard presented her with a proclamation on behalf of the city and state Rep. John Barrett III, a former mayor, read off proclamations from the state House of Representatives and the state Senate.
Five of the seven City Council presidents Gomeau served under were present on Tuesday: Alan Marden, Lisa Blackmer, Boucher, Benjamin Lamb and current President Keith Bona. Bona joked about how Gomeau would whisper to him to keep him on track.
"Clearly I've felt that the city clerk position is so important to our job," he said. While we get elected, what she does getting our papers together, filing ordinances, when we need things looked up, along with the entire office ...
"While you had big shoes to fill, so does upcoming City Clerk Pedercini."
Boucher, now a Clarksburg selectman, recalled the Monday afternoons going through the agenda to prepare for meetings and how she used to pass him candy from time to time at council meetings.
"I'm going to say thank you to you," he said. "When I sat up next to you, you were my security blanket. ... Your work never went unnoticed."
Former Council President Al Marden said Gomeau's mother was his secretary at the former Chamber of Commerce.
Two decades later, he said, "Marilyn took over the training and teacher role to make sure the council president did things right."
Blackmer said her importance went beyond the council: Gomeau oversaw elections, the city's vital records and census.
"She basically covers what we are as a society, what we are as a community," she said.
Gomeau received several standing ovations and was presented with flowers, a card and a personalized framed map of vintage North Adams from Bona on behalf of the council.
The meeting was more crowded than usual, particularly at the beginning, as firefighters, police officers and family members crammed into council chambers to see the first responder sworn in by Gomeau and pinned by the mayor.
"We know that all of the officers being recognized tonight and all of the firefighters and officers standing here with us, have taken an oath to serve and protect the residents of North Adams," said the mayor. "We saw their service, their dedication and their collaboration two weeks ago during the fire on Houghton Street and we know that those displaced by the fire and the property owner continue to recover but we should all take note of the professional response of our firefighters and officers and while that was a major incident they're serving us and protecting us every day."
Two of those being sworn in had family roots in service to the city, he noted. Firefighter Tyler H. Bolte was a third-generation North Adams firefighter and Patrol Officer Matthew Mirante's grandfather had been a police officer.
Casey C. Cooke was sworn in as a permanent firefighter and Kevin Stant as a patrol officer. Officer Preston Kelly was sworn in as the new sergeant.
Bernard also commended Sgt. James Burdick, who just retired after nearly 37 years with the department.
northadams.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.