Easthampton’s LaBombard named clerk of the year

Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard was awarded the 2024 Clerk of the Year by the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association.

Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard was awarded the 2024 Clerk of the Year by the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard was awarded the 2024 Clerk of the Year by the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association.

Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard was awarded the 2024 Clerk of the Year by the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

The 2024 Clerk of the Year award presented to Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard.

The 2024 Clerk of the Year award presented to Easthampton City Clerk Barbara LaBombard. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

By ALEXA LEWIS

Staff Writer

Published: 06-22-2024 8:25 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Barbara LaBombard is a powerful, behind-the-scenes force keeping Easthampton running smoothly on a daily basis. As the city clerk for over 30 years, LaBombard has witnessed Easthampton change from a town to an expanding city, and has grown alongside it. Now, she is being recognized at the state level, receiving the 2024 Clerk of the Year award from the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association. 

LaBombard arrived in western Massachusetts shortly after graduating from college in upstate New York, accepting a reporter position at the Holyoke Transcript Telegram. After a year of reporting on local happenings, she left the news media for other opportunities. Soon, she became the assistant clerk for the Town of Easthampton. 

“I like to say I went from one side of the counter to the other,” she said about this transition.

While her position as assistant clerk made the transition to clerk about a decade later much smoother, neither job was ever a small task. Though Easthampton was initially considered a town, LaBombard said its population wasn’t that much smaller than it is now, and there was never a shortage of tasks to complete. 

“[The job] is pretty broad,” she said. “There’s a lot to it, more than people probably realize.”

As assistant clerk, she learned the ins and outs of clerkship, which includes managing public records and licenses, organizing affairs for the census and elections, taking meeting minutes, and much more. Depending on the time of year, she said the nature of the job continually shifts. Elections in particular are a major undertaking, and rely heavily on the clerk’s office for success. 

“After every election, I’m proud that we made it through,” she said. “They're a really important aspect of the job … They’re stressful, long hours, and a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding to get people’s voices heard.”

When LaBombard first came to town hall, she had to count ballots by hand for each election. While the clerk’s office has taken on more responsibility with Easthampton’s growth over the years, she said that newer voting technology was a welcome change. 

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“She should write a book on being a clerk of elections,” said Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. “She’s always thinking about how to make voting convenient and efficient.”

Toward the beginning of her assistant clerk tenure, LaBombard also became a justice of the peace. To date, she said she’s overseen about 780 weddings. 

In July of 1994, LaBombard moved from assistant clerk to town clerk. Just a few years later, Easthampton moved from a town form of government to that of a city. With the adoption of a city council, LaBombard began managing council minutes, agendas, records, and organization. 

Now, LaBombard moves through the rhythms of city government with relative ease, managing birth, death, and marriage licenses, making city governance information available to the public, and keeping the voting process as easy and streamlined as possible. Years like 2024 that contain an abundance of elections still pose a challenge, but one that LaBombard is prepared to take on nonetheless. 

Already, the clerk’s office has received more than 5,000 mail-in ballots that voters have requested, and more are on the way. In her office, LaBombard organizes stacks of heavy bins full of requested ballots and election information postcards, all neatly labeled and ordered. 

For years, LaBombard has done intensive organizational work like this without any expectation of recognition. With the Clerk of the Year Award, the quiet appreciation LaBombard has curated in Easthampton and beyond is being amplified. 

“She keeps the train running with our public meetings, but also things people wouldn’t think of,” LaChapelle said. “She’s very independent… and has built out these great tools for members of the public.”

The award is presented by the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association, a group that LaBombard has been actively engaged with since early on in her career. Since Easthampton shifted from town to city status during her career, LaBombard said she was even more surprised to win the award, as she didn’t think she would qualify. 

“Especially because I found out I was nominated by at least one other clerk, it really meant that all that work was appreciated,” LaBombard said. ‘To be recognized by my fellow clerks, it’s a really big deal… it was just a total surprise.”

Alexa Lewis can be reached at alewis@gazettenet.com or on Instagram and Twitter at @alexamlewis.