BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
According to Barb Pallotta, “it’s just time.”
Pallotta, who has served as the Independence Township Clerk since 2011, announced her retirement earlier this month.
“Some of the reasons are obvious; I’m almost 66,” said Pallotta. “Some are not so obvious, and some are personal, so to come up with one single reason is impossible. It’s really a bunch of things. It’s just the right time. I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I put my heart and soul into it. It’s time to start moving some of that energy into my own life.”
Pallotta started working for the city of Novi and later worked in Troy (where she met her second husband, Steven, a former volunteer firefighter in the township, before marrying in 2007) before landing in Independence Township and being appointed as clerk a little more than eight years ago.
As clerk, Pallotta was responsible for keeping voter registration files, conducting elections, issuing licenses and permits, maintaining custody of all township records, recording and maintaining township meeting minutes, and preparing financial statements.
Along the way, she encountered many obstacles, but that was an aspect of the job Pallotta embraced.
“I don’t want that kind of challenge anymore,” she said. “I want to enjoy my life and travel.”
Pallotta said she has trip planned next fall to Ireland with her family, which also includes a son, Ryan, 39, who lives in Oakland, Calif., a daughter, Erin, 36, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., and a step-daughter, Kym, who lives in Waterford Township with her husband, Jason, and their kids Skylar, 16, and Kody, 14.
“I wouldn’t be able to take that trip if I stayed here,” she said. “I want to be able to visit them and be available for them as long as I can. I’m starting to just think about fun things now. I feel blessed that I’ve had so many opportunities to work in government, and it’s been a real ride. I tell you. I’ve grown from it and I have a decent reputation, but now I’m at that point, and it’s hard to admit, but I just feel like I can’t do it anymore.
Appointed as clerk in 2011 for 18 months, Pallotta was re-elected in both 2012 and 2016.
“I wasn’t sure about 2016, but I knew there was still work to be done,” Pallotta said. “I pulled my staff into a meeting, and they all thought I wasn’t going to run, but I told them I changed my mind and they all got emotional, so that felt good to be wanted. I knew we were getting new election equipment and would be implementing enterprise content management system that would bring in all of our records. I am a big proponent of that and wanted to launch that. I’m working on that right now, and am kind of closing my door, giving everybody else all the other work.”
Once her replacement is hired, Pallotta will spend 30 days with that individual, going over all the intricacies of the position.
“I feel like we’re in a good position to bring someone in, see how that person does the job, and then it will be up to them to get elected in 2020 if they want to,” explained Pallotta. “I feel good about it. There is no one that would argue that the clerk’s position is so different than the other two – we have such a diverse role. Working with (Township Supervisor) Pat Kittle and (Township Treasurer) Paul Brown, we all bring something to the table. When they were elected, we hired a company to evaluate our jobs, and the woman that oversaw the whole thing said to me, ‘Basically, you’re the mom.’ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s who I am.’
“Me, Pat and Paul, we are able to disagree, but it’s never been personal. Pat’s out there shaking things up, and I’m kind of under the radar. When we have our disagreements, I say to him, ‘Don’t change.’ We’re a good balance. A very good balance, actually.”
What advice does Pallotta have for her replacement, or even for her staff? For one, she has told her staff to accept change, be open to change, and that “as hard as change is, change is good.”
“I do have expectations,” said Pallotta. “I don’t want anyone to think I don’t. I have a questionnaire for applicants and the first question asks what they know about Independence Township. You have to be a resident to have this position, but you’d be surprised what people don’t know. I also ask what they know about the township government, what they know about the role as clerk, what excites you working in a role as clerk. I’m doing this first of all, to see if they can write – you have to know how to write in this job. I also want to see if they’re going to be engaged. A lot of my job, because it’s law-driven, you have to research things and make sure you’re doing things within the law.”
Overall, Pallotta said she has been proud of what she has accomplished while in her role.
“My time is up,” she said. “Now, it’s someone else’s time. Change it up. No one (on the Board) has said a negative thing about me leaving. They’ve all said I deserve this, and I’ve done a lot for the township. They’re even surprised I didn’t leave sooner, even. I even had an election inspector tell me that when I leave to let him know.
“I get to retire on my own terms, and not a lot of people get that luxury.”