Rockland clerk resigns ahead of municipal election in April
Name: Donna Shortall
In the news: Shortall resigned as town clerk on Dec. 31 after five years.
Now you know: Shortall is a certified hypnotherapist and is certified in crystal healing and reiki.
Her story: Donna Shortall worked for Rockland for 32 years, first in the schools, and then in town hall, in the clerk’s office and the treasurer’s office before running for town clerk in 2015.
Shortall handled vital records, processed voter registration forms, sent out the annual census, issued dog licenses and acted as the conduit for records coming into the town, from permits to applications.
“On top of that, you have elections,” she said.
This year, there were elections — the presidential election, a town election and a primary election. They all happened during a pandemic, which also brought the historic expansion of mail-in ballots.
Normally, elections involve weeks of preparations. The elections this year required a lot more as mail-in ballots poured in and Shortall had to figure out how to allow people to vote in person safely.
“There were a lot of sleepless nights trying to plan it out, the logistics of it,” she said.
That meant calculating floor space, distances between booths, finding personal protective equipment and worrying about voters and the election workers.
“It was one of the biggest challenges I ever faced,” she said.
Although Shortall’s elected term runs out in April, she decided to leave the post early, after fulfilling her promise to see her staff through the presidential election.
“I can’t do it anymore,” she said. “This is so challenging and it’s taken so much.”
Shortall said she could have stayed until April, and worked part time, but the office needs a full-time clerk.
“That’s not fair,” she said. “That’s not fair to the town, it’s not fair to the job and at this point, I don’t have enough reserves to give it 100 percent. When I was elected, I swore to give 100 percent and I do feel like I’ve done that up until now, but I don’t feel like I can do that anymore.”
Shortall said her assistant clerk, Liza Landy, will be stepping up and the town is in good hands. Being the clerk is a full-time job, with its own calendar filled with deadlines.
She will continue to work part time as a registrar for the town, helping with voter registration and the yearly census, she said.
“That way I don’t have to make any decisions,” she said.
Shortall started out working for the schools as a paraprofessional for 12 years, working with special education students after she made the decision to not become a special education teacher.
With her daughter about to attend college, she decided she needed more income than what she was being paid as a paraprofessional, so she moved on to working in the clerk’s office.
“I made a little more money and I didn’t need summer vacations off,” she said.
Shortall worked for four years in the clerks’ office before moving into the treasurer’s office for eight years. She then went back to the clerk’s office as the assistant clerk for three years before running for town clerk, unseating Randalin Ralston.
She said the office is in a better place than when she was first elected, which was always her goal.
“We’ve changed a lot,” she said. “We’ve changed the business certificate process because when I started, you walked in, paid $40 and would leave. That didn’t make sense to me, of why we’re not including all of the other offices, make sure everything is in line beforehand.”
Much of the changes relate to how records are kept and accessed. The animal control officer now has access to the database of dog licenses.
Shortall has also made access for records a little easier by allowing people to make requests for birth, death and marriage certificates online, as well as allowing an online payment system. Demand for birth and marriage certificates skyrocketed after the state started offering Real IDs, required in October 2021 for domestic air travel.