After 34 years as Ballston town clerk, Muriel Swatling is finally taking a break.
I think my children would like Mom to take some time to do things she’d like to do for a change, said Swatling.
Swatling’s retirement will go into effect Dec. 31 and she’s looking forward to taking it easy for awhile.
`I’m excited to not have to be some place at a certain time and take some time to relax and not be on such a tight schedule,` said Swatling.
And her schedule for the past three plus decades has been packed. Monday through Friday she was at town hall until 5 p.m., except for Thursdays when she worked 1 to 7:30 p.m. and various night meetings that occurred after regular work hours.
`I just felt that it’s time to do this,` said Swatling.
But though she knew it was time to make a change, the decision didn’t come easy.
`I like the job and this was really one of the hardest decisions I ever made. I contemplated it for a long time before I finally made it,` said Swatling, who took until the day before deadline to submit her letter. `I like the people but the job is just more and more; the town is growing so there’s just more to do.`
Town clerk duties allowed Swatling to become a familiar face in the Ballston community and one of her favorite parts was really getting to know the residents. She issued dog licenses, conservation licenses, marriage licenses and is the record keeper for all records of the town.
`There are all kinds of other stuff that goes with [the job] and each day is never the same,` said Swatling. `I had to go to town board meetings and take minutes of the meeting, type them up and distribute them. Everything that you do is different there’s no special thing I like doing better than others.`
Swatling may have been a town hall fixture for 34 years and seen various changeovers in town government, but the position of Ballston town clerk has been a family affair for much longer.
`Out of the last 70 years, 65 out of the 70 either my father or I was the town clerk,` said Swatling. `I grew up with it my whole lifetime and I was his deputy for 12 years, so I knew what I was getting into.`
When Swatling was first approached about taking over when her father retired, there was no town hall and the office was out of your home. For Swatling, home was a small living space above her father’s hardware store caring for a 4-year-old and 6-month-old.
`What if I was in the middle of changing a diaper and I thought, ‘how do I do this if someone comes for a license?’` said Swatling.
Kidding, Swatling said `you build me a town hall and I might consider it.` Five years later, there was a town hall and she was again asked to run for town clerk. This time, she said yes.
`By then my son was in kindergarten and I worked part-time at that time,` said Swatling.
The most notable changes over the years has been population growth, said Swatling.
`There are many more housing developments and more people than when I started,` said Swatling.
Supervisor Patti Southworth said Swatling helped her invaluably when she first took office.
`She’s been very responsible to residents and the town board and I know very instrumental in sharing the history from previous boards and resolutions with me as a new supervisor and I appreciate that and thank her for that,` said Southworth. `She’ll be missed and everyone in town will definitely feel her loss. She’s given a lot of years and herself and personal service to the town.`
Her replacement has yet to be endorsed, but Swatling said her deputy town clerk for 16 years, Carol Shemo, has expressed interest and would be more than prepared for the job, thanks to her.
`Muriel really showed me how to be the best town clerk in this office; showing me the way to do the job when she wasn’t here,` said Shemo.
Shemo said Swatling’s demeanor at work will linger after she’s gone.
`As town clerk she treated everyone with kindness and respect and tried to help a person whether they were in the right town or department or not,` said Shemo. `She was really the person who was most helpful to people she actually showed them what the town government was really like.`
So far, Swatling has some pretty ordinary plans for retirement.
`One thing I’m looking forward to is being able to do general household chores like laundry and grocery shopping during the daytime so I don’t have to spend evenings and weekends doing it,` said Swatling. `I’ve got people saying they have a place for me to volunteer here and there and I also have friends in different parts of the U.S. that keep saying they’re coming to visit.`
Swatling said she’ll still be involved in the Ballston community some way or another, and Shemo said she’ll be remembered.
`All the other faces may have changed but Muriel’s was here and doing her job,` said Shemo.