Sarah Leach, at her desk in Pelham Town Hall. DON RICKERS

Sarah Leach is Pelham’s new Deputy Clerk

When Holly Willford was recently appointed as Pelham’s Town Clerk, it left her previous role as Deputy Clerk vacant, creating an opportunity for another staffer to move up the ladder.

Clerk’s Department assistant Sarah Leach was eager to advance her municipal career, evidence being the numerous municipal administration courses she has been taking since joining the clerk’s office four years ago. Her persistence paid off: she will assume duties as Pelham’s new Deputy Clerk on May 24.

In a statement, the Town of Pelham said that it is pleased to fill the position from within, continuing to focus on a culture of mentorship and training amongst its senior ranks, positioning employees like Leach for the opportunities to advance their careers within the corporation.

“I am thrilled to have Sarah step into this role and to have her continue to serve the Clerk’s Department in a more involved manner,” commented Willford in the statement. “Sarah’s experience, knowledge, and dedication will serve her and the corporation well in the years to come. She’s a familiar face to many in the community and a great team player.”

Leach has been with the Town since 2016, and worked as an accounts receivable cashier until 2017.

“It was a really great experience, and allowed me to establish relationships with local residents,” she said. “In this new challenge, I’ll be taking a more active role in the Committee of Adjustment, records management, elections, and public meetings under the Planning Act.”

She has been present at most Town Council meetings for the past year and a half, and has been referred to as “the magic behind the curtain” for handling many of the technical aspects of council meetings (especially during the pandemic, when council went virtual by video).

“There’s always a fear that the technology will fail, but I’m very accustomed to working with it, and we’re really prepared for whatever glitches might happen,” said Leach.

A St. Catharines native, Leach graduated from Brock University with a degree in sociology with a concentration in criminology, and more recently added to her credentials with a certificate in records and information management from Mohawk College, in Hamilton. She continues to take various AMCTO (Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks, and Treasurers of Ontario) courses to bolster her knowledge of government affairs.

“I had fantastic mentors along the way,” said Leach. “Obviously, [just retired Clerk] Nancy Bozatto had a huge influence, and I consider her to be one of the most inspirational and influential people in my life. I credit my success to her 100 percent. And, of course, I’ve worked closely with Holly [Willford] for three years now, and have learned so much from her. I really feel that this transition will be seamless for us as a team.”

Leach’s recreational pursuits focus on the creative arts.

“That’s my passion—I love to write, paint, and craft. I really think it’s important to explore different avenues of creativity, and ways to express yourself. And continual learning is important to me, expanding my skill set. My mom always referred to me as a student for life.”

A special perk of the job is having powers as a civil marriage officiant. Leach hasn’t done any weddings yet, but will be presiding at nuptials in the near future. She noted that in her previous role, she wrote the order of service and readings for civil ceremonies.

“We’re very lucky to have the pavilion in Peace Park for wedding services, because it does offer quite a nice local location,” said Leach, “but I’ll be happy to travel to locations throughout the Niagara region to accommodate the wishes of matrimonial couples.”