NORWALK, Conn. Norwalk's city clerk was looking rested Wednesday as she sat in a corner office crowded by three visitors, discussing an upcoming United Way event.
A short distance away one of the city's newest employees shuffled papers together, assembling information for the Common Council, which writes Norwalk's laws. Tammy Grimes-McPherson was in her second day as assistant city clerk, a position she was named to in a vote at last week's Common Council meeting. The lifelong South Norwalk resident said she was excited to be working in the mayor's office. "Everyone has been exceptionally nice since I've been here," she said.
Her 10-year-old son was impressed after her first day. "He goes, 'Mom, you met the mayor?'" she said.
Grimes-McPherson has two sons; the oldest is 17. She was laid off last April from her previous job as a senior collections specialist at Equilease Financial Services, a South Norwalk leasing company. She had been there for nearly three years and was one of eight people laid off out of 50 employees, she said.
"It was hard," she said. She filled out "a lot of applications," and did a lot of searching online, from the time she dropped off her youngest son at West Rocks Middle School to the time she picked him up. "There's just no jobs," she said.
Grimes McPherson is involved in youth ministry at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in South Norwalk. Common Council President Carvin Hilliard and Common Councilman David Watts go there, she said, and she has known Hilliard for a long time. That led to her becoming assistant city clerk.
Hilliard nominated her as an alternative to Erik Anderson, who was favored for the position by a majority of Democrats on the council. The matter was tabled at the Dec. 13 council meeting and taken off the table at last week's council meeting. Grimes-McPherson won the vote, supported by five Republicans and three Democrats .
"I'm very excited for her, I hope she does a great job," said Anderson, a personal banker.
Republican Councilman Fred Bondi stopped by Wednesday to say hello for the first time. "I voted for you," he said, by way of introduction. She smiled in recognition.
Erin Halsey , the city clerk, had been without an assistant since late October. Asked how she felt to have Grimes-McPherson on the job, Halsey gave an exaggerated sigh of relief and said she was "very happy."
Grimes McPherson was a collection specialist for Quantum Servicing Corporation, a division of Clayton, for two years before working for Equilease and a default workout specialist for GMAC mortgage corporation for three years before that.
Her experience in collection gave her a perspective when she lost her own job. "With the economy being bad, people not being able to hold on to their homes, it's just bad," she said. Her husband has worked for the United States Postal Service for more than 23 years, and his benefits came in handy.
Of the seven other people laid off from Equilease, two now have jobs, she said. One was called back to Equilease when another worker retired and one is at UBS. Two went back to school. The others are still looking.
Two days into her role as assistant city clerk, Grimes-McPherson said she is happy with the "big learning experience," including the lesson's in the city's code. She said, "You have the position of the city clerk and assistant clerk and you always wondered what do these people do."
Other than studying the city code books that came with the job, she didn't really have an answer to her own question yet. Much of her duties so far revolve around getting things ready for the Common Council, she said.
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