People of the Year

2023 Public Servant of the Year: Candace Hall

Since late last summer, when Greenport Village Clerk Candace Hall took on her new role in Village Hall, the tiny municipal building on Third Street has been a whirlwind of activity.

“I think the most wonderful part about having Candace in the office,” said Mayor Kevin Stuessi, “is when you walk in that front door, there is always a smile that greets you from her, and the rest of the staff.

“She’s done an amazing job of setting the tone, not just with the team downstairs, but with everybody in Village Hall. And it’s really inspired this level of happiness and getting the job done within the office,” he said.

Ms. Hall’s family roots stretch back seven generations in Greenport and the surrounding area. She is the granddaughter of legendary local figure Delores Bertha Swann Shelby, affectionately known as “Bootsie,” who was born in Greenport in 1930 and grew up to raise 14 children, work in the Greenport School cafeteria and provide day care to dozens of families in the village.

Ms. Hall narrowly lost a 2021 election for Southold Town clerk to Dennis Noncarrow, before being appointed last summer to serve as Greenport’s village clerk.

Ms. Hall works closely with longtime deputy clerk Jeanmarie Oddon and three part-time staffers.

“I don’t know how to explain it. Candace and I complement each other very well,” Ms. Oddon said. “We come up with our ideas. We throw things around. And we’re both very like-minded in taking care of the culture of the workplace, that it’s a happy place, but it’s a nice place to work. It’s a clean place to work.”

Being village clerk — or holding any other staff position in Village Hall — can be daunting, Mr. Stuessi said.

“One of the challenges of the clerk’s office is you’re constantly bombarded with data,” he explained. “We have a very small staff and they’re managing a significant amount of work in the village. You’re constantly bombarded with people at both the front door and on the telephones and so managing all of that can be a real challenge.”

The job entails working with residents and business owners to solve a spectrum of problems, big and small.

“Whether it’s having a question for the building department, issues with code enforcement problems, with an issue with their house or their street,” Mr. Stuessi said.

“That they need the electrical departments, or the road department to help fix that clogged sewer drain, or problems that the electrical coming into their house, or as simple as, you know, wanting to pay their electric bill or their tax bill,” he continued.”Or having a question about either one of those two items … any and all requests for special events, parades, larger events, you know, talking to people about issues with rental permits.”

Ms. Oddon said she’s in lockstep with Ms. Hall.

“She’s a very smart, talented, community-minded person,” said Ms. Oddon. “She’s all about building a team … we both have the same ideals. We are very much a united front.”

Ms. Oddon, a veteran of Village Hall, said she got to know Ms. Hall in recent years because she would come in to file for public assembly permits for an annual basketball tournament she and her relatives organize. .

“I’ve known Candace — I’ve also known Candace’s family — for the last 14 years,” Ms. Oddon said”I work with several of her uncles, aunts, mom. So I’ve known Candace, on and off indirectly — and then directly with the basketball tournament.”

Ms. Hall grew up in Greenport until roughly age 12, then moved with her mother, a nurse, to Washington, D.C., returning to Greenport for every holiday and every summer.

Life in the nation’s capital opened her eyes to the possibilities of a career in public service.

“I was able to see people who looked like me in elected office in D.C.,” she said. “It’s a very colorful place. It’s beautiful, [and] it made me think, ‘Why can’t I?’ ”

Ms. Hall and her mother moved back to the North Fork seven years ago, when her mother was diagnosed with three rare types of stomach cancer, which she survived following surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Ms. Hall had grown to cherish her work teaching preschool in Washington, D.C., and when she returned to the North Fork, as an administrator at Peconic Community School, which she described as a “magical place,” before being recruited into public service by Mr. Stuessi.

The mayor said Ms. Hall’s most ambitious project is reorganizing village records, which stretch back to the 19th century.

“She took on a tremendous amount of work,” he said.

“She is working really closely with me, and then with the state archives department, to go through all of the records — which are literally hundreds of years old — and determine what needs to stay, what needs to go and be shredded. We’ve already removed tremendous amounts with the New York State Archives department, and [identified] what we want to archive in the [Greenport] Historical Society, and then what we need to digitize, which is a significant amount.”

Last summer, at the close of a lengthy Vision for Greenport meeting at the village cinema, the mayor announced the appointment of a new village clerk, introducing his choice as a “very special community member who is from one of the founding families of Greenport: Candace Hall.”

The announcement was met with a burst of thunderous applause from the audience.

For her attitude, her attention to detail and her infectious smile, Candace Hall is The Suffolk Times’ 2023 Public Servant of the Year.

Previous Winners

2022: Carolyn Peabody
2021: Charles Sanders
2019: Kevin Webster 2018: Rodney Shelby
2017: William Price
2016: Jim Grathwohl
2015: Jack Martilotta
2014: Ted Webb
2013: Heather Lanza
2012: Ed Romaine
2011: Greenport and Southold Highway Department Crews
2010: Leslie Weisman
2009: Betty Neville
2008: Thomas Crowley
2007: Philip Beltz
2006: Jesse Wilson
2005: Martin Flatley
2004: Mattituck-Cutchogue School Board
2003: Ben Orlowski Jr.
2002: Jack Sherwood
2001: Dave Abatelli
2000: Melissa Spiro
1999: Valerie Scopaz
1998: Jamie Mills
1997: Karen McLaughlin
1996: Lisa Israel
1995: John Costello
1994: Ray Jacobs
1993: Judy Terry
1992: William Pell
1991: Beth Wilson
1990: Antonia Booth
1989: Frank Murphy
1988: Venetia McKeighan
1987: Paul Stoutenburgh