On the afternoon of Election Day in November 2012, Joyce Bradshaw stood in front of her table at North Andover High School, explaining the ballot procedures to one resident while giving smiling nods to several other residents who walked by and waved.
"You let me know if you have any more questions," she said to the resident as she walked back around the table to check the latest numbers.
Turnout was high. Very high: More than 15,000 votes were cast in a town of about 18,000 registered voters, more than in 2008 and 2004. This election was special. North Andover had two state representative races, a State Senate race with an open State Senate seat, a hotly contested congressional race, perhaps the most watched U.S. Senate race in the nation and the intense presidential race that kept the nation gripping with white knuckles.
And yet Bradshaw managed to remain calm (or, at least, appearing so) and kept things moving like a fine-tuned machine.
For this reason and more, Town Clerk Joyce Bradshaw is North Andover Patch's Person of the Year for 2012.
The November election was only the grand finale of a year that consumed Bradshaw's time and tested her stamina. From the start of the year, Bradshaw was dealing with the state's oft-confusing redistricting -- communicating it to the town's boards and residents when very few people actually understood it.
And before we could put away the New Year's decorations, the town was engaged in local elections, including what turned out to be an unusually high-profile town moderator race.
All the while, Bradshaw was preparing the town for June's Town Meeting, with a new town moderator.
And in June, Bradshaw and the staff at the Town Clerk's office lost a beloved member of their team, local volunteer with whom Bradshaw had a special bond.
When Town Meeting was finished, Bradshaw didn't have time to rest. There was a primary election to prepare for, and then a November election that saw massive turnout.
Much of this chaos and hard work may go unnoticed by many in town -- Bradshaw is known by many as the smiling face people first meet when they move to town -- because she fulfills her many duties, and then some, so quietly.
Bradshaw was a nominee for our Unofficial Mayor of North Andover contest and, although she didn't ultimately win, residents gave her a close second place with more than 6,400 votes. (To put that into perspective, that's more than Congressman John Tierney, Elizabeth Warren, State Rep. Jim Lyons and Barabara L'Italian would win in North Andover on Election Day, and almost as many votes as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.)
In her heartfelt resident Diane Huster said it simply: "She does everything for North Andover, best Town Clerk in Mass, she knows everyone, she is kind and helpful."