Municipal Clerk announces retirement after 28 years

After 28 years serving Princeton as clerk, Linda McDermott has decided to retire.

Mayor Liz Lempert announced the news on Sept. 26 to acknowledge that council meeting was to be McDermott’s last. As she normally does, McDermott documented the meeting’s contents until the very last hour – often near or even past 11 p.m. – before she stepped down from the chair she’d become so accustomed to at council’s edge.

“There’s that element of working with people, communicating with people, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” McDermott said of her position.

While McDermott’s roots were not established in municipal government, she always pursued areas that facilitated her passion for learning and interesting interaction. A graduate of Rider University, McDermott earned her degree in journalism and communications.

Before becoming Princeton’s deputy clerk in 1988, she handled press relations for a nonprofit called Green Thumb and the Lawrence-based United Way. She also worked in alumni relations at her alma mater. Throughout the start of her career, McDermott maintained an interest in government, and when the opportunity to work in Princeton arose – not far from her hometown of Hamilton – she seized the moment.

“And I’ve been here ever since,” McDermott said.

While McDermott’s job appears consistent from one’s seat at a council meeting – her gaze steady, hands moving fiercely across the keyboard – a day in the life is anything but.

“One day is never the same as another; we do so many different things,” McDermott said. “It keeps everybody on their toes, which is great, and there is always something that’s interesting. Whether we’re dealing with an issue a resident might have, council meetings, elections or the various kinds of licensing we do, it’s always turning – just like journalist I suppose you could say.”

Being witness to 28 years of local government, the highlight of McDermott’s career was consolidation of the former borough and township. She had been clerk for the township, and once consolidation occurred, she was appointed as municipal clerk for the merged entities.

“It was a big deal – working together to consolidate. There were so many innate differences between the township and the borough. We all had to learn from each other, and we’re still learning every day … It’s tough and you want to do your best to serve,” McDermott said. “I’m very proud of the work we do here. I’m proud of everybody’s accomplishments.”

Until she officially steps away from nearly three decades of serving Princeton in mid-December, McDermott will be keeping busy in the office while the administration seeks a replacement.

Once winter arrives, alongside retirement, McDermott plans to remain busy – the way she likes to be – pursuing some work, traveling and spending time with her family. In addition to reading, going to the theater, boating and gardening, McDermott loves going to the beach – whether to the Outer Banks or to visit her daughter, Megan, 22, on the dance team at Monmouth University. She and her husband, Steven, are big sports fans and often attend the football games their son, Ryan, once played and now coaches at Hamilton’s Nottingham High School. Ryan also serves as communications dispatcher for the Princeton Police Department.

“It has been wonderful working with such talented people over the many years in a great town like Princeton,” McDermott said. “I will miss them all.”

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida