PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Janet Rowe is congratulated by her son Chris after she is elected the new city clerk. Her daughter Kay is pictured on the right.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — It only took a minute.
In a 6-5 vote, Janet Rowe, the Lynn’s assistant clerk for more than a decade, was elevated to city clerk by the city council on Tuesday night.
She replaces Mary Audley, who has held the position since 2001 but plans to retire at the end of January.
Rowe bested Andrea Crighton who has worked as a clerk in state Senate on Beacon Hill for 11 years and is married to state Rep. Brendan Crighton.
Just minutes before the vote, City Council President Daniel Cahill announced a third candidate, former city councilor and attorney Timothy Phelan, had withdrawn from consideration. Sources said he lacked the votes to get the position which pays about $100,000.
“I am so happy,” Rowe told The Item following the vote. “I’m just surprised that Tim Phelan dropped out. So it came down to the two of us and I’m really just so thrilled.”
Rowe will take over the job at a time when Mayor Judith Kennedy Flanagan and the council are at odds over the hiring of a deputy election commissioner to augment the city clerk’s office. Last summer, the panel hired Michele Desmarais for the new position in time for this fall’s elections. But the mayor refused to fund the job, saying the city doesn’t need and can’t afford it. Desmarais was later named to head the city’s health department.
Looking ahead, Rowe said there will be a smooth transition as she takes over the clerk’s office.
“I pretty much know what’s ahead of me,” she said. “I’m ready for the challenge. I think I can take it on. I love the people I work with, I love the office so I’m not afraid of it and I’m looking forward to it.”
Ward 7 City Councilor Jay Walsh said Rowe was the logical candidate to fill the position.
“She’s been there, doing the job and I think she’s a good fit,” he said.
At-Large Councilor Brian LaPierre said Rowe has had many years to prepare for the job.
“Janet will serve our city very well as city clerk, she’s done the job as an assistant, she’s got huge shoes to fill in replacing Mary Audley,” he said. “Her selection was in the best interest of the city and she’s a hard worker.”
Thomas Grillo can be reached at [email protected]