Editorial: To the retiring town clerk, thanks for a job well done

Posted 12/3/20

A generation ago, maybe two, the leaders of local government agencies were typically well-known residents from entrenched families who ascended to the top positions through patronage, political party …

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Editorial: To the retiring town clerk, thanks for a job well done

Posted

A generation ago, maybe two, the leaders of local government agencies were typically well-known residents from entrenched families who ascended to the top positions through patronage, political party or popularity. In some cases, they weren’t the best person for the job; they were the best connected. But they were almost always “from here,” and they loved their home town.

In recent decades, that changed. Increases in compensation, benefits packages and pensions were accompanied by increases in responsibility, administrative burdens and accountability. Many of today’s municipal leaders are highly educated professionals, often with master’s degrees, earning big salaries and frequently jumping from job to job, town to town.

In recent years, Bristol has been fortunate to have a number of leaders who blend the two — longtime residents who love their hometown, and also bring an impressive resumé to the job. Louis Cirillo is the perfect example of this. The retiring town clerk seems to have been born for his role.

First and foremost, Mr. Cirillo is the consummate professional. The job demands impeccable organizational skills, vast knowledge of town laws, and strict adherence to deadlines and procedures — it would be difficult to find anyone more prepared than Mr. Cirillo.

The 2020 election offered yet another example of Mr. Cirillo’s professional acumen, as he steered the town through the most unusual election ever. A surge in mail ballots, early voting, Covid protocols and a mass exodus of longtime election volunteers made this election everything but “normal,” and the town managed all of it without a single stumble. It may be one of Mr. Cirillo’s great accomplishments.

Yet the rules, procedures and policies are just part of the job. The best town clerk brings a sense of history and institutional knowledge to the role, and this is really where Mr. Cirillo shines.

In a town rich with notable historians, Louis Cirillo is one of the finest. Both his knowledge and love of Bristol run deep, and he can enhance any town policy decision, records search or family genealogy project with a wealth of information not found in a manual for town clerks. More than anything, that will be missed.

Louis Cirillo loved his job. He approached it with zeal. He was a passionately devoted public servant. And he brought intangible qualities not easily replaced.

On behalf of a grateful town, thank you for a job well done, Louis.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.