After more than two decades of public service, Brookhaven Town Clerk Donna Lent (I) has retired after nine years in that office.
The announcement was made at the Nov. 10 Town Board meeting, where Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and council members thanked Lent for her service.
“It was a lovely day,” Lent said in a phone interview. “I was not expecting the big send-off from the board that they gave me, which was very generous.”
Lent ran for her third term in office against Ira Costell (D) in the 2021 election. She said she started having a painful case of sciatica after getting hurt in May. Lent was on medical leave for six weeks.
“It just got me thinking,” Lent said. “Here I turned 70 in September, and my husband retired in 2015.”
She initially thought she would retire in August, but she said Romaine asked her to stay longer.
Her first day of retirement was Nov. 14, just a few days after the Town Board send-off. Lent said she stayed on to help in the office because both of her deputies had their children’s birthday parties during the weekend. Soon after her last day, Lent and her husband moved to South Carolina.
Deputy Town Clerk Lauren Thoden is now serving as interim town clerk. A special election will be held in the near future, and the winner will complete Lent’s term which ends in 2025.
Lent said during her tenure she was immersed in the day-to-day operations of the office. She also oversaw the implementation of the town’s electronic content management system, which included a central-scanning repository where the town clerk’s office can scan both department and town records in real time.
Regarding office operations, Lent said she has no concerns, for now, as she knows it will be “smooth sailing” for the current staff members. However, she does worry that whoever is elected town clerk may not keep the same staff.
“My advice to the new clerk would be to keep the people who know what they’re doing and just let them do it,” she said.
Most people don’t understand the multitude of tasks the office is responsible for, she added, and the new clerk needs to know all the ins and outs of how everything works.
“It’s important to have some continuity,” she said.
Before being elected town clerk, Lent managed a lawyer’s office. She entered public service in 2001 when she became former state Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington’s chief of staff. When Eddington (WF/D/I-Medford) went on to become Brookhaven town clerk, Lent was appointed deputy town clerk.
As Lent looks back at her career, she feels fortunate.
“I was really so privileged to be able as a staffer to end up being an elected official and so honored to have held that position and get reelected twice to serve the residents of the Town of Brookhaven,” Lent said. “It really was a job that I loved.”
In a statement, Romaine thanked Lent.
“Donna Lent has a long history of public service to the Town of Brookhaven, and she will be missed by all of us at Town Hall,” he said. “Her efforts to make the department run more efficiently helped to streamline public facing operations, making it easier for residents to conduct their business with her office. On behalf of the Town Board and all the residents of Brookhaven Town, I say thank you Donna for your many years of exemplary service as Brookhaven town clerk.”