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Northport clerk says she is retiring after dispute with mayor

The longtime Northport village clerk retired this week.

The longtime Northport village clerk retired this week. Credit: Ian J. Stark

Northport's village clerk said she is retiring after two decades on the job amid a dispute with her boss and is considering a run for mayor.

Donna Koch, 59, of Northport, announced in a Facebook post on Tuesday that she was retiring that evening following a disagreement with Mayor Damon McMullen. Her retirement was effective Wednesday.

"I’m retiring and looking forward to a bright future," Koch said Wednesday in an interview.

She said the dispute was over McMullen and other "administrative personnel" allowing an employee who had been out on workers' compensation to return to work on "light duty" without consulting her or telling her that they had done so. She said there is no such category as "light duty."

"I did workers' comp for 23 years for the Village of Northport, and I was totally disregarded," Koch said. "As long as we’ve had workers' comp, if you can’t perform the duties for which you’ve been hired, you’re out until you can."

She confronted the mayor on Sept. 2 and admits raising her voice at him but said it was because of her concern for the village.

"I told the mayor, ‘you’ve opened the floodgates.’ He has no idea the repercussions of doing that," she said.

She was then informed the mayor was not going to reappoint her.

"Since I raised my voice at him, and it’s not the first time I’ve raised my voice to him, he decided he was not going to reappoint me, it’s that simple," she said. "But he was totally within his legal right not to reappoint me."

She said the unidentified worker who returned to work on "light duty" sustained a new injury.

McMullen declined to comment on Koch’s version of events.

"The only thing I’ve been saying to anybody is that she’s worked quite a long time for the Village of Northport and I wish her well and the best of luck in her retirement," McMullen said Wednesday.

At Tuesday’s meeting the village board approved her retirement with coverage of 75% of her health insurance premium and a payout of 230 unused days. A search will be conducted to find a new clerk, the mayor said.

Koch said she’s considering a run for the mayor’s office in 2022.

"I’m born and raised in the Village of Northport," she said. "I’ve worked in this village for the last 27 years, from crossing guard to the village clerk. I know what it takes to run this village."

McMullen did not directly answer a question about Koch being a possible challenger.

"I wish her well in her retirement and hope she enjoys it and spends some time with family," he said.

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