HALLOWELL — City Clerk Diane Polky’s philosophy is that no question is too small or should go unanswered. She has worked with nine city managers throughout her career, and says her favorite part of the job is “everything.”

Diana Polky, retiring Hallowell city clerk, poses beside carved banister Wednesday in Hallowell City Hall. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Now, after 24 years, Polky is planning to retire. Her last day on the job is set for Feb. 28.

“Diane knows city procedures like nobody else and is the go-to person when someone needs to know something about process or where an old record is kept,” Hallowell Mayor George Lapointe said during the city’s Jan. 3 inauguration.

“She has ably served the City Council, and me personally, by attending meetings, preparing meeting records, running elections, giving gentle reminders of tasks that need to be taken care of and many other tasks too numerous to list.”

Before moving to Maine in 1982, Polky grew up in New Jersey.

“My hometown is Freehold, (New Jersey), the home of Bruce Springsteen. He lived down the street from me,” Polky said, adding she and “The Boss,” who is six years older, did not interact much.


Growing up, Polky would visit Northeast Harbor in the summer, and she got married shortly after graduating high school.

Polky was hired as Hallowell’s deputy city clerk in 1999 and became city clerk in 2016.

After more than two decades at City Hall, Polky, 67, said she and other city officials are convinced the building is haunted. However, there is some debate surrounding exactly who is doing the haunting. Polky said some believe it is a councilor who died of a heart attack in the 1930s. She, however, believes it is the ghost of Luther F. Gray, who served as the city marshal and police chief from 1920 to 1945. She said she has stayed late at City Hall and heard door noises upstairs.

Gray’s haunting Hallowell City Hall remains a local legend and part of the city’s haunted history tour.

“I think he takes care of us,” Polky said.

She has also seen floods hit City Hall, during which municipal officials have carried on as best as possible while the water drained.


Polky said the lowest point in her career was the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

“How do we keep people safe and stay open? We, the staff, worked here during COVID and we were careful to be safe. We always kept people’s safety in mind,” Polky said. “I had to run the elections that way. It was a stressful time, for sure.”

Coordinating Zoom meetings also proved difficult, particularly wiring all the computers, cameras and microphones needed to broadcast.

Polky said she is going to miss the people most.

“I’m gonna miss everybody,” she said. “It’s been very bittersweet, and everybody’s been super, super kind to me. And I can’t express my gratitude enough to everybody here.”

City Manager Gary Lamb said he will miss Polky.


“She’s incredibly organized and incredibly dedicated to being city clerk,” he said. “Her attention to detail is wonderful, and she keeps the city manager and elected officials working within their lanes in terms of the charter and our ordinances, and that’s much appreciated. We will miss her.”

On Tuesday, Polky was training her successor, Lisa Gilliam.

Like Polky, Gilliam has decades of experience working in municipal government, with this being her 28th year. She served most recently as the Winslow town clerk for four years, and worked for Winthrop for 18 years.

Gilliam said it was difficult to leave Winslow, which she described as a wonderful community with a “real work family unlike any other,” but it was time for a career change.

“I couldn’t bypass Hallowell. It’s too beautiful,” Gilliam said. “It’s an amazing city. It’s small. It has a lot to offer. It’s got the historic district, businesses, restaurants, everything. There’s a lot compacted in such a small community. I’m excited about being part of it and getting involved as much as I can.”

Looking ahead, Polky, whose salary this year is $59,358, plans to visit her two sons in Jacksonville, Florida, and to help her youngest son, who runs Polkki Furniture in North Monmouth.

Polky announced her upcoming retirement last August, and said she hopes 2023 will mark the beginning of a new adventure.

“I live in Fayette, which is 15 miles away,” she said, “and winter roads are getting a little harder for me. And I’ve been getting pressure from friends and family to do things, but I put in so much time here that I had to say ‘no, no, no’ all the time. So, it’s time to make a change.”

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