Clinton Co. Clerk Zurlo enters eighth term

Jan. 19—PLATTSBURGH — For most of his life, Clinton County Clerk John Zurlo has committed himself to public service.

At the age of 85, he still approaches every day that way.

"All of my life it has been a life of service. I taught for 34 years, I was the tax collector helping people for 22 years, I was a legislator for six years, and I've been county clerk for 28 years," Zurlo said in his office at the Clinton County Government Center.

"I think I can still contribute and help people."


Zurlo, a Republican, won an eighth four-year term as clerk this past November when he beat Democratic challenger Brandi Lloyd.

He is the longest serving county clerk in Clinton County history, surpassing Democrat Bernard Amell who served for 23 years from 1973 to 1996, and he is the longest serving county clerk in the state.

As clerk, he oversees the clerk's office, which records deeds and all kinds of documents and also oversees the state branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles.


Prior to his run as clerk, Zurlo, a proud graduate of St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vt., taught at Northeastern Clinton Central School in the Northern Tier for 35 years.

One of his former students, Clinton County Court Judge William A. Favreau, swore him in for his latest term at ceremony at Anthony's Restaurant in Plattsburgh recently.

"I still enjoy coming to work. I enjoy meeting people and helping solve their problems," Zurlo said.

It is not uncommon for Zurlo's office to be flooded with visitors who either had him as a teacher or who have been helped by him with a DMV issue or other clerk-related matter.

"I told my wife that when I die, I want it to say, 'He lived a life of service,' on my tombstone," he said.


Zurlo said he gets his people skills from his father who was a great people person.

"I think I followed him with his civic-mindedness," he said.

"My father was always involved with something with the Knights of Columbus, the chamber and all kinds of things."


In this term as clerk, Zurlo said he would like to update the county's maps, and will seek a grant to do so.

"Our maps are in deplorable shape, and I want to get that done," he said.

Zurlo said his office is able to provide so much help to people because he has an exemplary staff.

"Over the years, I've been very fortunate with the staff we have here," he said.

"Right now, we have the best staff on both sides (clerk office and DMV)."

Finding people to work is not easy these days, Zurlo said, recalling how there used to be up to 100 people who would take the Civil Service test for jobs in the clerk's office or DMV.

"The past two years, we've had seven and six show up," he said.

Zurlo said he was grateful that the voters decided to give him one more term.

"I would have hated to lose in my last race," he said.

"But I am very grateful for the support because I still want to work and serve the people."


Twitter: @jlotemplio