By Katy Savage
Lucrecia Wonsor can give the number of Killington residents who were born and the number who died last year off the top of her head.
Last year’s five births and three deaths surprised to Wonsor. It was the first time the births outpaced the deaths in her memory, she said.
Those are just some of numbers that Wonsor has kept track of for almost two decades.
As the town clerk of Killington, Wonsor knows the number of people who have been married and properties bought and sold. She knows how many dogs living in town and the number of voters. She renews DMV licenses, issues liquor licenses, fish licenses and hunting licenses.
Wonsor, 57, has been town clerk of the resort town for 16 years. Last spring, she became a master certified clerk—a prestigious certification awarded by the International Institute of Clerks for those who complete hundreds of hours of coursework.
Wonsor cares deeply about her job, but she never imagined she’d find herself here—in the middle of small town politics.
“It’s not a career path that anyone chooses,” she said.
Wonsor is an immigrant from Portugal. Her family moved to the United States for work opportunities when Wonsor was 9 months old. She was the secretary to the vice president of a pharmaceutical company and then assisted a lawyer in real estate closing and estate planning. Wonsor moved to Killington from New Jersey in 1998.
Wonsor remembers when she first walked into the Killington town office to register to vote. She never thought of working there.
“You walk in and it looks so quiet,” she said.
But appearances are deceiving, she quickly learned.
Town Planner and Zoning Administrator Dick Horner hired Wonsor as a recording secretary for the Planning Commission in 1999.
“She gave me a résumé that was way more than qualified to be a secretary for the Planning Commission,” Horner said.
Wonsor became assistant town clerk in 2000 and then town clerk in 2002. She’s been elected to three-year terms for the town clerk position over and over ever since then. She’s always run unopposed, she said.
The fact that Killington voters have kept Wonsor around isn’t surprising to Horner. “She goes out of her way to help people,” he said. “She always follows up with everything.”
Wonsor stays late at the office to help people with marriage licenses, Horner said. She comes in on weekends if needed.
Wonsor never thought all those years ago that she’d love her job as much as she does.
“It’s different from any other type of job,” she said. “It’s your residents—it’s your voters.”
But the job has also changed a lot since Wonsor started.
She worked in the office before email and computers were so dominant—when people would send letters and she had more time to respond.
Now, “the expectation is that the answer will be immediate,” she said. “It doesn’t slow down anymore.”
Wonsor goes out of her way to find the answers, even if doing so isn’t part of her job description.
“People call us for anything,” she said.
People call about the weather. They call if the roads are muddy, about beavers making dams and roads that haven’t been plowed. One woman recently called for travel conditions.
Wonsor said being a town clerk is keeping track of hundreds of life cycles at once—for all 800 Killington residents, there are records from birth, to marriage, to death and all land transactions in between.
“Your life is recorded in our vault –if you stay in town,” Wonsor said.
Wonsor has an associate’s degree from Middlesex County College. But nothing could prepare her for what she does now, she said.
“There is no college course you take to learn how to be a clerk or treasurer,” she said. “I wonder, ‘why not? Why isn’t this an option that is mentioned to kids?’” she asked.
Wonsor has had to find ways to keep herself educated.
In addition to the town clerk, Wonsor is also the town treasurer. She’s the Recreation Commission recording secretary and the Economic Development and Tourism Commission secretary, but that’s not all.
Wonsor just became a board member of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT). She’s been on the executive board of the Vermont Municipal Clerks’ and Treasurers’ Association since 2009, recently serving as president. Wonsor is a certified Vermont clerk, a certified Vermont treasurer and a member of the New England Association of City and Town Clerks.
“You can’t just sit in your office,” Wonsor said. “You have to talk to other clerks and treasurers. If you just sit in your office, you don’t develop.”
Education is important to Wonsor, which is no surprise to those that know her.
“She always strives to do her best,” Select Board Patty McGrath said.
When she’s not in the office, Wonsor likes outdoor activities.
Wonsor is the town’s wellness coordinator and a “health nut” who regularly exercises, said Horner.
Wonsor also started a community garden two years ago at the town office after securing a VLCT grant.
The garden has become a team builder for the town office, with those that work there sharing in the weeding and watering required to grow vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, greens and broccoli. The road crew created the raised beds while the Select Board put $1,000 toward the garden in the budget to buy seeds.
“We’ve all enjoyed the fruits of our labor,” Horner said.
Wonsor remains active in her home and personal life. She’s preparing to attend the annual International Institute of Municipal Clerks conference in Virginia next month.
“She cares deeply about the town, the people in it and doing [her job] to the highest standard,” Town Manager Deb Schwarz said.