November 17, 2010

GOP taps Priest for House clerk

Augusta resident would be chief administrator

By Tom Bell
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Incoming House Republicans have nominated Heather Priest to be the new clerk of the House of Representatives.

The full House will vote formally next month on the position, but her election is likely with Republicans holding a 78-72 majority.

Priest, 46, would be following the career path set by her mother, May Ross Coffin, who served as either the secretary of the Senate or as a staffer for Senate Republicans for 32 years until retiring in 2003.

Priest, who lives in Augusta, is a graduate of Cony High School and Husson College. She has worked in the State House for 16 years, most recently as the senior legislative aide for House Republicans.

The House clerk serves as the chief executive and administrative official for the House of Representatives and performs a broad range of administrative, managerial and parliamentary tasks.

Priest would report to the speaker of the House and supervise a staff of more than a dozen people.

Priest said in an interview the clerk's job is a nonpartisan position.

"We are there to serve every member of the House chamber," she said.

Priest would replace Millicent MacFarland, a Democrat.

The House clerk's post is among the highest-paid jobs in the State House. MacFarland, who has held the post since 2000, was paid $110,527 in 2007, according a database of state worker salaries compiled by the Maine Heritage Policy Center.

Starting pay for the new post would be between $76,600 and $83,5000, according to the state's established pay scale.

Also on Tuesday, House Republicans nominated Shawn Roderick be assistant clerk. Roderick is now the senior executive secretary for House Republicans.

Roderick, 26, worked on constituent services and casework investigations in the Portland office of U.S Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

He graduated in 2002 from Carrabec High School in North Anson.

Tom Bell -- 699-6261


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