NL clerks taking involuntary retirement

New London City Clerk Michael Tranchida, left, and Assistant City Clerk Dawn Quinn talk in the clerks' office at New London City Hall on Monday as they start their final week of work as city employees.
New London City Clerk Michael Tranchida, left, and Assistant City Clerk Dawn Quinn talk in the clerks' office at New London City Hall on Monday as they start their final week of work as city employees. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo

New London - The city clerk and assistant city clerk, who have a collective 46 years of experience in New London municipal government, will retire Monday, opening up the two positions for the first time in 12 years.

But City Clerk Michael Tranchida and Assistant City Clerk Dawn Quinn said Monday they were not ready to leave their positions and feel they were forced out.

"The new administration, they have their own vision, I imagine, for the way they want things done. It's obvious I'm not what they had in mind,'' said Quinn, 54, who has worked for the city for 20 years, first as Democratic registrar of voters and for the past 12 years as assistant clerk.

As part of the transition from a city manager form of government to an elected mayor, Daryl Justin Finizio, who won the Nov. 8 election, asked all department heads to reapply for their positions. On Thursday, he is expected to announce any changes in those offices.

Keith Chapman, the special assistant to the city manager, and Thomas Londregan, the city attorney, will not return.

Historically, the clerk and assistant clerk were political appointments. Last year, when voters amended the City Charter, the two positions became merit-based jobs overseen by the personnel office.

The two positions have been advertised with a $60,000 annual salary for city clerk and $46,906 for assistant clerk.

A week after the election, Tranchida and Quinn said, they were called into the personnel office. "We were not encouraged to apply for our jobs,'' said Tranchida, 59, who has worked for the city for 26 years, including the past 12 as city clerk.

When asked to comment on Tranchida and Quinn feeling they were forced to retire, Finizio said, "They were eligible for retirement and they retired. I thank them for their extensive service to the city and I wish them well.''

Friday is their last day of work.

Finizio said a new city clerk will be named later this week. The person will be hired by the city manager and then reappointed by Finizio after he is sworn into office Monday night.

Before he was appointed city clerk, Tranchida was the assistant clerk for a year and served as a city clerk technician for 15 years. He started his career in the city in the water and sewer department.

"It's bittersweet,'' Tranchida said Monday. "I'd like to have stayed a couple more years, but 26 years with the city is a very good run."

He said he always considered his service to the city not just a job but "custodian of all the vital records." The clerk's office handles deaths, births and marriage certificates, adoptions, land transactions and legal notices.

Tranchida said he has no immediate plans.

Quinn, who has two children in college, said it has been an honor and a privilege to serve the city. She said she is unsure of the future.

"This was so incredibly sudden,'' she said. "With the holidays and all, I'm trying to get my bearings. I hope I'll be able to serve in another municipality."

Both retired under the city's pension plan for unaffiliated workers, according to Bernadette Welch, the city's personnel director. The package includes a one-time payment of 3 percent of their annual wages for each year served, but not exceeding 60 percent of their annual salary. The city will also pay for several years of health benefits, she said.

Chapman was hired by former City Manager Martin Berliner and put in charge of the Public Works Department and the Office of Development and Planning. Both of those positions are currently open.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

If you go

What: Swearing in of Daryl Justin Finizio as mayor and the City Council and Board of Education

When: Monday. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the inaugurations begin at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., with a celebration immediately after at the Crocker House, 35 Union St.

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