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June 18, 2013

A presence at the polls

Warden honored for 60 years of monitoring elections

NEWBURYPORT — Charlotte McLaughlin has been an election poll worker since the days of Bossy Gillis, and if the name of that long-ago mayor doesn’t ring a bell, try President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The veteran warden from Ward 1 was honored at City Hall yesterday for 60 years of aiding voters at the polls.

The state Legislature passed a special resolution honoring her lengthy commitment, and state Rep. Mike Costello, D-Newburyport, and state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, delivered a copy and lauded her in the chambers of City Council for her decades of service.

But she’s not retiring. The 88-year-old Oak Street resident said she plans to work this autumn when the city holds municipal elections.

“I’m surprised they had this special gathering,” said McLaughlin, a Newburyport native who went to local schools. “I thought it was going to be just a few people, and it’s a whole room full.”

Friends, family members and local officials were on hand for the reading of several declarations of appreciation and gratitude.

A state resolution noted that she had “skillfully, diligently and cheerfully presided over 140 federal, state and city elections.”

It added that she has “overseen 14 presidential elections from Dwight D. Eisenhower to President Barack Obama, and 29 mayor elections from the legendary race between Henry Graf and Andrew J. ‘Bossy’ Gillis to the present.”

(Gillis was a long-time and controversial mayor who lost to Graf in 1954. Gillis served four one-year mayoral terms in the 1930s and he was again mayor in 1958-59. He owned a filling station on Water Street, now long gone, and was known as an irascible character who reportedly sometimes used his fists to punctuate his political points.)

“We’re pleased to honor you, today,” Costello said. “Your dedication is part of the reason our voting system works here and you’ve done a great job in Ward 1 year after year.”

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