PAWTUCKET – There are only six active municipal clerks in Rhode Island with the highest designation one can receive in the occupation on an international level, and Pawtucket now has two of them.
Deputy City Clerk Michelle Hardy, in her 24th year with the city, is now officially Master Municipal Clerk Michelle Hardy, a designation she says she worked very hard for.
The achievement, following City Clerk Rick Goldstein’s securing the same title in 2010, “is a good thing for Pawtucket,” says Hardy, who said she has no plans to now leave the city she’s lived in since she was 4 years old and loves so much.
Why are city clerks important to the average city resident?
A clerk, says Hardy, is historically the oldest position in any city or town and as the record keeper, is intimately involved with the affairs of residents from the moment they’re born until they die, handling everything from birth certificates to dog licenses, marriage certificates, house purchases, opening a business, even probate court and what happens to one’s estate when they’re gone.
“It touches everybody’s life in some way or another,” she told The Valley Breeze.
At the Dec. 22 City Council meeting, Goldstein presented a resolution honoring Hardy for her work, calling her a special member of Mayor Donald Grebien’s administration and the go-to person for anyone wanting to learn something or get something done in the city.
The MMC designation from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks is so deserved, he said, and is awarded to those who show a desire to stay ahead of trends through continued education, training and networking.
Hardy performs outstanding service to clerks’ offices, agencies and municipalities across the state and surrounding areas, he said. During COVID, she has taken it to the next level, working with all Pawtucket license holders to keep them updated and informed on the latest regulations, and ensuring residents’ access to services even when City Hall hasn’t been open, he said, performing “truly outstanding” service.
Goldstein said he has the pleasure of knowing several MMCs, and all are worthy of the designation, but he can say with confidence that none are more worthy of it than Hardy, and he was honored to introduce her for the first time as “Deputy Clerk Michelle Hardy, master municipal clerk.”
Hardy said she’s so grateful to Grebien and Goldstein for supporting continuing education. She told the council she worked really hard to get here, putting together a 300-page application including her numerous activities and designations, including working on boards at the local and state level to make it easier to do business in Rhode Island.
Council President David Moran joked that the city might have to refer to Goldstein and Hardy as “MMC 1 and MMC 2.” This is a great honor, he said, and so well-deserved.
Hardy, who became a certified municipal clerk (CMC) in 2005, told The Breeze she loves working for Pawtucket and with various city officials and business owners. Every day brings a different challenge, she said. Records in Pawtucket go back to 1728, she said, and she considers it an honor to have that history at her fingertips, ready for her to research, and find people information on who they’re related to and what happened in their lives in the past.
Being an MMC means one is truly invested in the continuing education, networking, and serving that comes with the job and to maximize service to residents, she said. She said she’s remained committed to staying up to date on the latest technology to make it easier for businesses to operate.
It’s tough to run a business in Rhode Island, she said, and it’s the clerk’s job to make sure owners are informed on everything they need to know, including on local ordinances and keeping them up to speed on the latest regulations. There are a lot of laws in effect for many different reasons, she said, and Pawtucket did work to simplify the process, including streamlining license applications and helping businesses with step-by-step lists on everything they’ll need.
The first thing the clerk’s office did at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 was to make sure they had accurate emails and cell phone numbers for every business owner in the city, said Hardy. Every time the state has completed a COVID update, staff has contacted those business owners to let them know what’s changed. Clerks have given them guidance on everything from where to find the signs they need for their windows, to the different forms they need to fill out.
Now married for the past 20 years, Hardy has two children. She and her family live in the home that belonged to her parents, which has been in the family since 1910.
Asked if she’ll parlay her MMC designation into a raise, Hardy laughed.
“I don’t know if that’s in the cards,” she said.