DeWitt On July 23, more than 50 concerned DeWitt residents packed town hall for a public hearing to discuss whether or not to change the town clerk from an elected to appointed position.
Of the nearly 20 people who spoke at the meeting, almost all were opposed to the idea of making a change to the position. But despite the overwhelming backlash from residents, the board voted in favor of the proposal 5-1-1, with Councilor Ken Andrews voting against it and Councilor Joe Chiarenza abstaining.
“I respect all of the people here and their opinions, but there were less than 100 people here tonight, and the town of DeWitt has 25,000 residents,” said Councilor Jamie Frank. “And we knew going into the meeting that most of the people [in attendance] were going to oppose it. But I still want to throw it out to the rest of the people, who weren’t here tonight, so that they can have a vote.”
One of the major issues brought up was the idea that if the position were to be appointed by the board, the town clerk’s allegiance would be to the town board members who he or she was appointed by as opposed to the residents of the town.
“I am an American citizen by choice, not by birth,” said one DeWitt resident. “I lived in another country, where democracy is not alive and tyranny is what happens… When something is appointed, it creates an opportunity to ingratiate the person appointed if it is a paid position. And when someone is ingratiated, it opens up an opportunity for corruption and nepotism.”
Additionally, many residents said that they felt that the board was moving forward too quickly and not taking enough time to discuss whether the issue should be acted upon at this point in time or held until a later date, something that was echoed by Andrews.