ELLSWORTH — City Clerk and Registrar of Voters Heidi Grindle has held her position for 16 years, after first stepping into City Hall as secretary to the city manager in 1996. Grindle gave notice on Oct. 20 she was resigning her position, with her last day scheduled for Nov. 18.
Grindle said she is taking an accounts payable position with Bar Harbor Bank & Trust.
“A big part of it is that I’ve been [in this role] for 16 years and I’m burned out,” she said.
The 2020 presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, turned her position even more stressful than usual.
“We were constantly having to rethink and readjust things,” she said. “It was exhausting.”
And when it came to elections, citizens were often far from courteous, she said.
“My own personal integrity was being questioned,” Grindle said, by voters handing in absentee ballots with remarks like, “Are you really going to cast this?” and “Are you going to throw it away now?”
“People have gotten meaner and meaner over the last 16 years,” she continued, “and they come in in a negative frame of mind.”
But Grindle was quick to add that many people who come in are quite pleasant and that “a lot of citizens support me and my department.”
She said she will miss her colleagues at City Hall and the businesses she serves as city clerk.
“It’s just that I have to leave,” Grindle said.
A troubling issue is that election clerks are hard to come by too, she said, and will call in the day before or day of the election, not realizing how vital they are to the election process. With a balanced number of Democratic and Republican election clerks required by law, a last-minute call-in can throw the entire process into disarray.
“Right now, Republicans are hard to find,” she added.
Grindle puts more time in to her position than her 8-to-5 schedule at City Hall, typing up council meeting minutes on Saturdays or, like this past weekend, readying City Hall for voting. She said she’s just not ready to give up family time anymore.
“We cross-train, but at the end of the day it will fall on the clerk,” she said.
The city is advertising to fill her position, and City Manager Glenn Moshier said he’s hopeful that a candidate with clerk experience will come to Ellsworth.
“Certainly [Grindle’s] institutional knowledge and knowledge of the processes and charter and ordinances for the city of Ellsworth are going to be difficult to replace,” he said. “And we’re certainly saddened to lose her as a valuable employee. Many employees have worked for years with her and consider her a friend.”