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In politically charged Berne, the deputy clerk is fired

Apr 22, 2021 6:03 am

Noah Zweifel is reporting for The Altamont Enterprise Berne Town Clerk Anita Clayton has fired her deputy, Jean Guarino. Guarino believes it is because she was endorsed by town Democrats to run for clerk in November. Clayton, a Democrat, has been town clerk since 2013. Her term will end on December 31, and she previously said she would not seek re-election. However, Clayton’s name now appears in court papers related to a lawsuit over the Working Families Party line, indicating she is a candidate for public office in Berne. Clayton made headlines in February when she wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor blasting the Berne Democratic Committee for what she called a demeaning candidate interview. This week, it was Guarino's turn to write to the paper's editor. According to Guarino, she enjoyed working in the town clerk's office after Clayton persuaded her to take the job last year; there was an understanding that she was training to be Clayton’s replacement. Guarino said things were fine until Clayton accused her of leaking town information in early 2021, at which point Guarino was stripped of her keys and log-in information. Clayton suspected Guarino had made public a report concerning the death of town highway worker Peter Becker after a story about the report appeared in the Enterprise. Guarino denied leaking information from or about the report. Once her keys and login information were taken, things went from bad to worse. Prior to the accusation, Guarino had the same access and responsibilities as Clayton, with the exception of human resources materials. After the accusation, however, “everything was stripped little by little,” she said. Guarino was fired and handed a notice of termination minus any justification. Guarino is one in a long line of people removed from their position without explanation and without a performance-related reason in Berne. After questions, as well as a copy of Guarino's letter, were sent by the Enterprise to Clayton, she promised to respond to the allegations, but failed to produce anything before press time. Read more in The Altamont Enterprise.