By Cary Shuman
The Lynn City Council selected Janet L. Rowe as the new city clerk at its meeting Tuesday night. Rowe will officially take office on Feb. 1, succeeding Mary Audley, who is retiring from the position.
The Council voted 6-5 to appoint Rowe, who has served as assistant clerk for 12 years. The Council’s decision came down to the final vote, creating much drama inside the Council Chambers for one of the most important positions in city government.
Ward 7 Councilor Jay Walsh, casting his vote last because the voting was done in alphabetical order, broke the 5-5 deadlock with a vote for Rowe over the other finalist, Andrea Crighton, wife of current state representative and former councilor-at-large Brendan Crighton. Timothy Phelan, former councilor-at-large and a third finalist for the position, unexpectedly withdrew his candidacy prior to the vote. Seven candidates were interviewed for the position.
Joining Walsh in supporting Rowe for the position of city clerk were Councilors Brian LaPierre, Darren Cyr, Wayne Lozzi, Peter Capano, and William Trahant Jr.
Voting for Crighton were Council President Daniel Cahill and Councilors Richard Colucci, Dianna Chakoutis, Buzzy Barton, and Hong Net.
“This was one of the most difficult votes so far I’ve had to take, no question,” said LaPierre, who cast his vote for Rowe. “There was real drama because of the Phelan letter emerging and also whom everybody was going to vote for. There was a lot of political jockeying as you can imagine in a city like Lynn.”
LaPierre felt that Rowe’s years of experience in the city clerk’s office was a key factor in her appointment.
“I think ultimately it came down to which person was going to serve the city the best, and with the experience that really came through during the interview process, I know we made the right choice with Janet Rowe. She will do a fantastic job.”
Rowe is a lifelong resident of Lynn and graduate of Lynn Classical High School. At the Council meeting, Rowe was accompanied by her son, Christopher, and her daughter, Kay. The new city clerk is married to Charlie Rowe, the well-known Lynn high school swimming coach and community leader.
“My family has been so supportive – I’m lucky,” she said.
Rowe also thanked the City Council for its support.
“I’m really looking forward to working with all the councilors. I already get along with all of them. They’re a great council. They work together really well so I don’t think I’m going to have any problem stepping in. I feel very grateful to have this opportunity.”
Rowe praised Audley’s tenure as city clerk for the past 15 years.
“It’s been just great working with her,” said Rowe. “I’ve learned so much from her and this is a well-oiled, machined office on both sides, the city clerk and the election office. We have a great staff on the election side as well. Everyone here really works well together so I feel very comfortable taking over.”
The city clerk’s office has had a very busy year with increased voter registration, special elections, a state representative race, hotly debated ballot questions, and the U.S. Presidential primary and election. For the first time there were 10 days of early voting for President under a new state law.