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First female to serve and to be elected as Wayne County Clerk

The Wayne County Clerk is usually an elected, not appointed position, but Bob Oaks’ 1992 election to the New York State Assembly left his County Clerk seat open. The Wayne County Board of Supervisors promoted Oaks’ Deputy, Linda Shaffer, to fill his unexpired term.

Shaffer began her career with the County in 1974 as a recording clerk. When Oaks appointed her Deputy Clerk in 1985, what had been ‘just a job’ became more than that. Through its various departments, the Clerk’s office was and is responsible for recording real estate transactions, deeds, mortgages, DMV and even divorces. The staff also showed people doing historical or genealogical research to use the county records - and Shaffer wanted people to go away happy. One of the youngest Deputy Clerks ever, she began transitioning the Clerk’s Office to a computer-based system.

When the Board elevated Shaffer acting Clerk after Oaks’ departure, her seven years as Deputy Clerk allowed Shaffer to step into the role easily, but NYS Governor Mario Cuomo objected that the appointment should have been his to make. Acting Supreme Court Justice Maurice Strowbridge ruled in Cuomo’s favor and within two and a half months Shaffer was back in the Deputy Clerk seat, with Cuomo’s appointee, Ontario Conservative Party Chairman William Lochner in the top job. Shaffer had already announced she would run for the position in the November 1993 election, but now she had to run against the man who would be her boss for the next few months.

That November, the people of Wayne County let it be known that they, not Gov. Cuomo, would choose their County Clerk. The final tally was 13,069 to 4801, and Linda Shaffer became the first female elected to be Wayne County Clerk.

Linda Shaffer

Linda Shaffer

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