Westerlo’s clerk retires, deputy clerk steps up

Kathleen Spinnato

Kathleen Spinnato

WESTERLO — On June 11, during the Westerlo Town Board’s special meeting designed to address budget cuts in response to sunken sales-tax numbers, town clerk Kathleen Spinnato announced that she would be retiring, effective June 21.

Spinnato, a Democrat, was just six months into her second four-year term as clerk, having beaten Republican challenger Wendy Shelburne in November despite a red wave that saw two Republicans elected to town board seats in the Democrat-majority town. 

The short notice, Spinnato explained, was due to a condition of retirement that required her to act quickly. 

Spinnato did not respond to Enterprise requests for comment.

At the meeting, held remotely, Spinnato had given a lengthy and apparently emotional presentation, though the quality of the audio prevented the speech from being heard.

“She basically thanked all the people she’s worked with along the way,” Supervisor William Bichteman told The Enterprise after the meeting, “It was an emotional thing for her to do … Kathleen has worked for the town for close to 30 years. That’s a long time. She’s done a lot of things; she’s seen a lot of things.

“This is just my opinion,” Bichteman continued, “but I think she’s conflicted by the fact that she has an opportunity to take advantage of a situation ... that would benefit her; at the same time she has to leave abruptly to do that, and I understand her feelings.” 

 

Abrupt appointment

At its regular meeting on June 18, the town board voted, 3 to 2, to appoint Deputy Clerk II Carla Weaver as acting town clerk. 

The surprise motion was made by Republican Councilwoman Amie Burnside shortly after the meeting began, and it was seconded by Republican councilman Richard Filkins. Because the motion was seconded, the board was obligated to vote despite the clerk position being listed on the meeting’s agenda as one of the last items, suggesting discussion.

Republican Councilman Matthew Kryzak voted in favor, citing a desire to see the post refilled without delay.

Democratic Councilman Joseph Boone told the board he was abstaining from the vote because he did not have any time to review the resolution, and was “wary” and “nervous” that a big decision was being made so quickly.

Bichteman, also a Democrat, angrily told the Republicans they “didn’t understand the ramifications” of the appointment and voted nay. 

He told The Enterprise this week that there were things related to the appointment he had hoped to discuss with the board in an executive session at the end of the meeting, which became irrelevant He also said that voting to appoint Weaver at that time was redundant since she, as deputy clerk, was the default fill-in for Spinnato until the board decided to appoint someone.

 

Karla Weaver

Weaver, 35, has been deputy town clerk since 2015, a job she said she applied for because it “sounded interesting,” and which she accepted because she and Spinnato “just clicked from the start.”

Both the Clerk and Deputy Clerk II positions are full-time. The clerk is paid $44,340 for 2020, and the deputy clerk is paid $39,700.

Prior to working full-time for the town, Weaver held jobs at a grocery store and two veterinary clinics, and interned with Neiman Marcus while she attended Berkeley College in White Plains (Westchester County). She has a degree in fashion marketing and management.

“I moved up quickly [at the grocery store] from a cashier to assistant manager of the front end,” Weaver told The Enterprise in an email. “I was lucky that success came to me easy as I believe management could see I was a very responsible person when it came to money and all other duties of the job. 

“They could see that I picked things up quickly, enjoyed a challenge, worked very well under pressure; all while having excellent customer service and being a nice person which is something I strive for in all facets of my life.”

On her appointment, Weaver said it felt “surreal.”

Several letters to the Enterprise editor supporting Weaver were published this week.

Weaver said it was always her desire to be Westerlo’s town clerk and that the two previous clerks, Spinnato, and before her, Gertrude Smith, hoped and planned that one day she would take over the post.

“I’ve taken the job seriously as I do with everything I am involved in and over the years have participated in training with the town clerks’ and tax collectors’ associations to work toward the goal of one day becoming town clerk,” she said.

As deputy clerk, Weaver said, she has handled most of the responsibilities expected of a town clerk, explaining that her teamwork with Spinnato, who she hopes to make “very proud,” was an important aspect of the job.

“I just hope residents and the board have faith in me,” Weaver concluded. 

 

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