Longtime Hopewell Township Municipal Clerk retires

Left to Right: Former Mayors Jim Burd, Kristin McLaughlin, and Julie Blake; Committee member Uma Purandare, Committee member (and former Mayor) Kevin Kuchinski; Clerk Laurie Gompf; Committee member David Chait; Mayor Michael Ruger; Deputy Mayor (and former Mayor) Courtney Peters Manning; and former Mayor Harvey Lester.

Laurie Gompf didn’t set out to be a municipal clerk.

“We have a joke among the clerks,” Gompf says. “You don’t grow up dreaming of being a clerk.”

But Gompf, a stay-at-home mom who found herself with her three boys in school and facing a sluggish economy after 9/11, decided to return to work part-time. She took a job as an administrative assistant to the clerk in Clinton Township.

Now, twenty years later, Gompf has retired as Municipal Clerk of Hopewell Township. She started with the Township in 2006. Her last day on the job was Wednesday, Jan. 31.

“It’s been a great ride,” Gompf said. “Obviously, I’m going to miss the people; the Committee members, and my co-workers. The thing I won’t miss is getting up at 6am!”

Gompf has survived nine mayors and dozens of Township Committee members, most of whom relied on her knowledge and experience as they navigated their first stint in elected office. And they all remember her fondly.

“When you come in you know nothing, and Laurie is right there for you,” said Julie Blake, who served five years on the Township Committee, including a stint as mayor.

Mercer County Commissioner Kristin McLaughlin, who served six years on the Township Committee, including two years as mayor, says she couldn’t have been successful without Gompf’s assistance. “What is she responsible for? Everything.”

By statute, the municipal clerk is the secretary of the governing body and custodian of the municipal seal, minutes, books, bonds, contracts, and archives. 

Practically, the clerk serves many other functions. — the Committee’s liaison to the public, the local registrar of voters, the top administrative officer for committees and boards, handles all open records requests, and anything else Township Committee members throw at them. One recent task — how to conduct Township Committee business and public meetings while under lock-down during the COVID pandemic — included dealing with Zoom bombers. “It was a learning curve,” she said.

“She is not only extremely knowledgeable and excellent at her job, but she is calm and collected always, and has helped steer the Township through some very difficult times,” Deputy Mayor Courtney Peters Manning said.

Gompf, a self-professed “parrot head” who’s been to many Jimmy Buffet concerts, has immediate plans to do a little traveling to check out potential retirement spots in Florida and South Carolina, after spending her entire life in New Jersey. She’s not a gardener or golfer, but looks forward to having time for enjoying suspense and mystery novels.

The Township Committee feted Gompf with a cake and flowers after her  last official committee meeting last Monday night. Seven of the mayors she has worked with were on hand to say goodbye and wish her well. 

“Thank you Laurie, from the bottom of my heart, for all you do for the people of Hopewell,” McLaughlin said during the meeting. 

Mayor Michael Ruger said, “Hopewell Township is fortunate to have had Laurie as our clerk. She excels at her job and always makes helping residents her number one priority.”  

Gompf, who almost never speaks from the dais during meetings, was clearly moved by the celebration. 

“I’m a little happy and a little sad,” Gompf told the Committee members. “It’s truly been an honor.”

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