November 22, 2011
Longtime City Clerk Rosaria Salerno— a former Boston city councillor who has served several three-year terms in the job since 1995— says she plans to leave the post in February. The Boston City Council will elect her replacement. It is the one job in city government that the council has sole discretion to fill by a vote of its members.
In anticipation of the City Clerk vacancy, there is rampant speculation that former District 3 City Councillor Maureen Feeney will seek the job. It’s a lucrative post — with a base salary of over $100,000 and the potential for much more through additional pay the clerk collects through marriage fees.
Feeney may be the best person to serve as the next clerk. But unless the council conducts a proper, transparent process to choose a successor — and solicits candidates outside of its own ranks— we will never know for sure.
Boston should follow the lead of our neighbors in Lowell, which is also preparing to fill a vacancy for its city clerk. The Lowell City Council has narrowed its pool of candidates to six after receiving more than 120 applications for the open position earlier this year. All finalists must interview for the position before a final vote from the council.
There is plenty of time for Boston to conduct a similar process to replace Salerno, who is ably served by an assistant clerk who can run the office and provide continuity for the council even if a replacement is not chosen by the time of Salerno’s departure next year. The council, at all costs, should refrain from pushing through a plum appointment for one of its longtime members — no matter what her qualifications — without a full and thorough public process.