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Ridgefield town clerk retires after nearly four decades

July 15, 2018

RIDGEFIELD — When Barbara Serfilippi first signed up to work in the town clerk’s office in 1978, it was for a part-time position to help cover the clerk’s three month leave of absence.

But when that person decided not to return to the job, what she thought was a short-term gig turned into Serfilippi’s career. She was brought on as a full-time assistant town clerk, a position she would hold for 17 years, and then elected to the town clerk position in 1996, which she still holds today.

“What started as three months turned into 39 years,” Serfilippi said. “It’s been a wonderful job.”

Serfilippi, who will step down from her position at the end of next month, said she was nervous when she first started all those years ago, but grew to love the ever-changing responsibilities in the busy office.

The town clerk position, she said, changes often based on new laws or new procedures for its three major responsibilities — keeping land records, managing elections and keeping birth, marriage and death certificates.

Serfilippi said her favorite part has been working with people, both residents and her co-workers in Town Hall. She has also enjoyed swearing in new police officers or firefighters and issuing marriage and birth certificates, she said.

“We kind of see it all here,” Serfilippi said. “People are people, whether it was 10 years ago or now.”

The biggest change to the job over the years has been the transition to new technology, Serfilippi said. Records she once wrote, copied and searched for by hand are now on the computer.

She also has had a unique perspective of changes in Ridgefield over the years, like the increase in land use, traffic and development, she said. In 2003 — a year that stood out — the office received double the usual 5,000 land documents due to historically low interest rates.

Busy years like this highlight what Serfilippi’s co-workers say has been one of her biggest strengths over the years — her work ethic.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said there is “no doubt about it” that she will be missed among Town Hall staff and residents.

“Barbara has certainly served the people of Ridgefield extremely well,” Marconi said. “Her dedication to the job, her professionalism and her requirement for efficiency — all of that combined resulted in us having one of the best town clerks a community could have.”

When she retires, the Board of Selectmen will appoint a replacement for Serfilippi until her term ends in 2019 and then the position will return to the ballot. Marconi said there have already been three applications and that anyone else who is interested should contact human resources by August 1.

Applicants need to be Ridgefield residents and a member of the Republican party because Serfilippi is a Republican.

Deputy Town Clerk Caitlin Bortolo and Assistant Town Clerk Victoria Gasperino said Serfilippi has been like a “second mother” to them. They agreed that it will be sad not to have her in the office, but that they are happy she will have time to herself after “devoting so much of her life to this job.”

“She’s been a great role model, teacher, manager and so much else,” Bortolo said.

Serfilippi said she considers herself lucky for having the opportunity to work with everyone in her office, Town Hall, other town clerks in Fairfield County and the residents of Ridgefield.

So far, she doesn’t have plans for her retirement except to relax and spend more time with her family and friends. It was about five months ago when she realized it was time to step down, Serfilippi said.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and it’s funny how it happens,” she said. “You wake up one morning and you say, ‘I think it’s time.’”

aquinn@newstimes.com

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