Global pandemic. Historic elections. Urgent new responsibilities. For Bedford’s new town clerk, its bring-it-on time.
Bridget Rodrigue, who grew up in Bedford, began serving as town clerk on July 21. Town Hall is open by appointment only, but that doesn’t deter the steady stream of town clerk clients.
“People come in all the time,” Rodrigue reported. “There has been an increase in marriage intentions. People request birth and death certificates, and business licenses. We just started this year’s dog licensing. The clerk’s office is really constantly busy.”
The Massachusetts primary election on September 1 and the presidential election on November 3, with early voting for each, are high priorities. Rodrigue is meeting the challenge head-on.
“We’ve been receiving a lot of calls,” she acknowledged. “A lot of people are concerned about mail.” She noted that there’s an enlarged locked and secure ballot box built into the doorway at Town Hall.
Meanwhile, in-person early voting in the socially-distanced Reed Room at Town Hall is scheduled for Saturday from 2 to 6 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm, Monday from 8 am to 7 pm, Tuesday through Thursday from 8 am to 4 pm and Friday from 8 am to 1 pm.
“We are already thinking about November,” Rodrigue continued when early voting begins on October 17.
Rodrigue is an alumna of Middlesex School in Concord. She majored in education and psychology with a minor in sociology at Smith College, graduating in 2001, and earned a master’s in elementary education the following year.
She said she quickly became disillusioned with teaching and worked in the family business for a while. After the youngest of her two children was born, she began her career in municipal government about 10 years ago in the office of the Concord town clerk.
She returned to the Pioneer Valley, first as the licensing coordinator and administrative assistant to the Select Board in Hadley, then on the staff of the mayor of Northampton. Most recently she has been the town clerk in Ashfield, just west of Greenfield. In Bedford, Rodrigue works with two full-time staff, Ashley Cote and archivist Ashley Large. Interim town clerk since early January, Rosemary Harvell has transitioned to a part-time position where she plans to remain indefinitely.
At its meeting last Monday, the Select Board approved a roster of election workers for the primary. “We definitely will need more help [than ususal] for November,” said Rodrigue, noting that a number of veteran poll workers have opted to not participate because of their vulnerability to Covid-19. She later added that community response has been especially strong and the list is full.
“There are so many opportunities, including for college-age kids,” she said, adding that she likes to meet the candidates before sending their names to the Select Board for approval.
The town clerk’s office does not send receipts when mail-in ballots are received; residents should confirm them electronically through www.trackmyballotma.com.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763
Click this link to learn more about The Bedford Citizen’s first community reporter.
Editor’s Note: Clarifications and corrections added on August 22, 2020