Cumberland town clerk to be replaced by deputy
CUMBERLAND — After eight years of service that included rallying 83 percent of eligible voters to the polls in 2008, Nadeen Daniels will step down as town clerk and human resources director on Aug. 19.
Deputy Town Clerk Tamara O’Donnell is expected to be appointed by the Town Council to succeed Daniels on Monday, Aug. 9. Town Manager Bill Shane said the HR position will be handled by several employees for the time being.
Daniels, a 53-year-old Auburn resident who used to live in North Yarmouth, said last week that she wants more balance in her life.
“I definitely intend to ... find another job,” Daniels said, adding that she seeks a position with fewer hours, “so there’s more time for family and friends.”
Daniels, a former president of the Maine Town and City Clerks Association and the Cumberland County Municipal Clerks Association, said she'll particularly miss the people with whom she works.
“(When) you have good people working with you, you can really accomplish a lot,” she said. “... I have always felt very lucky to have worked with the people that I work with here. ... We’ve continued to reduce the staff levels, and yet people come to work happy every day and do a fabulous job.”
Last year, Daniels received the Lorraine M. Fleury Award from the office of the Maine secretary of state. The annual award recognizes a person who has made a major contribution to the election process, and who embodies the qualities of knowledge, experience, service and fairness.
The honor followed a good-natured competition between Cumberland and Bangor to record the highest percentage of absentee voters during the November 2008 presidential election. Daniels and her staff took voting to the road with Cumberland’s first mobile voting unit, in a full-sized motor home. The vehicle helped to boost voter turnout to 83 percent.
Daniels said for her, the work was fun.
“It was a blast,” she said. “And I think it was so exciting to see the response of the citizens who came out. And many people came out to absentee that wouldn’t have (done so), just I think for the experience of the RV voting. It was really cool.”
O’Donnell said she enjoyed the experience, too, despite the 30-plus days without a day off.
“I think we were a very good fit for each other,” she said of Daniels. “And that’s pretty rare. ... In life you come across a few people who really make a difference. She is that type of person.”
Daniels began her career in public service with the city of South Portland in 1977, where she served as city clerk. She was assistant city manager in Portland – and, as part of that position, city clerk – from 1989 to 1999,when she resigned to have surgery and rehabilitation for a brain tumor.
Daniels couldn’t wait to go back to work, she said, and when she finally had a clean bill of health, the clerk's job had opened in Cumberland.
Born in South Dakota, Daniels said she was an “Air Force brat” who traveled until she was 13 when she moved to Maine, where both her parents grew up. She and her husband, Mark Daniels, have one daughter, Alyssa, who is Cumberland’s economic development director.
“I have an immense amount of respect for her as a mother, as a professional and as a woman,” Alyssa Daniels said last week. “I’ve learned so much from her over the years and working with her has allowed me to truly appreciate her wisdom, compassion and poise. I’m going to miss all of the opportunities I have on a daily basis to learn from her.”
Daniels said she will also miss the citizens of Cumberland.
“I’ve been so lucky to deal with the people in the community for lots of reasons: licenses, permits, petitions, referendums,” she said. “And I’ve gotten to know a lot of them on a name basis. ... I don’t just feel like somebody who’s in the back office of the Town Hall. I feel like I’m really connecting, and that I’m going to miss.”
Shane called Daniels his quarterback and team captain on every Election Day, both a teammate and a friend.
“She is the epitome of a public servant,” he said. “She just cares so much about the public, cares so much about the residents, and providing a high-quality level of service at everything she does.”
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.