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Should the town of Cazenovia elect or appoint the town clerk?

GUEST COLUMN

On Nov. 5, Cazenovia residents will be asked to vote yes or no on local Proposition 2 as they complete their ballots. This local proposition changes the position of the Cazenovia town clerk from an elected to an appointed position. If enacted, the change will occur on Jan. 1, 2016. On that date, and subsequently, the town board would appoint an individual to the position of town clerk.

The Cazenovia Town Board, which includes members of both the Democratic and Republican parties, voted unanimously earlier this year to place this proposition before the voters. Town board members agreed to propose this change in response to three factors. First, the timing is excellent; our superb long-serving Town Clerk Linda Mather is retiring at the end of 2013. Second, our track record with appointed positions is exemplary; six years ago the community voted to change the position of highway superintendent from elected to appointed, with great success. Third, this change in town government is among the long-standing nonpartisan recommendations for modernizing local government and improving efficiency. Linda Mather fully supports the change to an appointed clerk position.

Villages in New York have appointed clerks, and many other towns have made the change from elected to appointed positions. Notably, once the change is made, there is not one example of towns returning to electing their clerks. This may be because the duties of the town clerk, which are closely specified by law, are not partisan in nature. The town clerk does not make policy, nor vote on resolutions.

The town clerk is responsible for issuing licenses and managing records. In addition, the town clerk serves the town board as their recording secretary and plays an important role in keeping local government in compliance with state mandates. The Cazenovia town clerk has also had the overall responsibility for overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the Gothic Cottage.

We are fortunate to have had Linda Mather as town clerk for the last 26 years, and doubly fortunate that she has had an opportunity to train her deputy town clerk, Connie Sunderman, to step up to the position. Note that Connie is running unopposed. This is a clear indication of the town board’s consensus that the position should be held by the most qualified individual. We hope that the voters agree, and say yes to local Proposition 2.

Kristi Anderson as a member of the Cazenovia Town Board.

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