WOBURN - The City Council recently selected longtime mayoral assistant Marie Lingblom as their top choice to replace retiring Council on Aging Director Joanne Collins, who this month will end her 20-plus year career working with Woburn's senior citizens.
During the City Council's latest gathering — which was held in City Hall's council chambers for the first time in months — the aldermen voted unanimously in favor of Lingblom's candidacy, which had garnered the full support of the council's Personnel Committee.
"Congratulations and great job. We're happy for you…The Senior Center's gain is the mayor's loss," joked City Council President Michael Anderson as those gathered applauded the job finalist.
Though it's unclear how many applied for the position, Lingblom ultimately beat out two other finalists vying for the department head opening.
The council's Personnel Committee, notified earlier this spring about Collins retirement plans, began reviewing applications received for the anticipated vacancy late last month. Final interviews were conducted by the committeee with the three top job contenders last Tuesday, when Lingblom emerged as the clear favorite for the job.
A one-time worker for a non-profit research scholarship organization, Lingblom as a WMHS Class of 1981 alumnus who became familiar with many in Woburns' political circles as a local newspaper reporter.
An early supporter of Galvin when he first ran for mayor back in 2009, Lingblom was first hired as a receptionist in the mayor's office. Two years later, she was promoted to her current administrative assistant's position.
During this week's council meeting, Lingblom, who this year earned $71,451 as the mayor's office manager, recognized she will be taking over for Collins during a frightening time for the community's elderly population, which has been threatened by the state's COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the lifelong Woburnite, though concerned about how the pandemic's financial impacts will effect the Senior Center's funding, she's excited by the chance to bring a new perspective to the Council on Aging.
"Thank you all for your vote of confidence," she said. "The seniors are a group of people that are [struggling with the pandemic] and really need some love. I"m excited about this opportunity."
Lingblom's selection as Collins' successor still hinges upon the execution of a final employment contract.
Next week, the aldermen are scheduled to discuss a proposed order from City Council President Michael Anderson that formally extends the department head contract offer to Lingblom.
Should she accept those terms, which would base her compensation off of the provisions of Woburn's collective bargaining agreement with City Hall department heads, the Woburn native would start work on July 1.
Though the exact terms of that contract offer are unclear, the new department head would presumably start at a lower salary than her predecessor, who as a 20-year City Hall veteran earned $91,078 in FY'20.
Earlier this month, in her last newsletter to Woburn Senior Center regulars, Collins shared her heartache over not being able to say a proper goodbye to many of the local residents she has worked with over the past two decades.
According to Collins, who plans to take up several new hobbies like painting in retirement, once the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is over, she has every intention of returning to the Senior Center to meet again with coworkers and area residents.
"When I started to plan for my retirement during 2019, never did I imagine saying goodbye during one of the most challenging times our community and our country has ever experienced! It has been weighing on my mind during the last few months, that I will not be able to say a “proper goodbye” to so many special people before my time working at the Woburn Senior Center ends," she wrote.
"I hope to return soon when together we are all able to celebrate my retirement and also rejoice the continued future success of our Senior Center. This has truly been the best employment of my life and I will always treasure the memories!" added the director, whose last official day as a city employee is June 30.