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Selectmen Discuss Town Clerk and Highway Surveyor’s Positions

As of March 26, two articles remained on the draft Town Meeting warrant concerning whether or not the Town Clerk and Highway Surveyor's positions should be changed from elected to appointed. Discussions took place over two March meetings as the Selectmen and Town Administrator Kim Newman continue finalizing the warrant.

Currently, both positions are elected by voters. However, with the recent announcement that Town Clerk Margaret Bonderenko is retiring in May and Highway Surveyor Alan Tetreault could retire once his term expires in two years, the Selectmen are contemplating the articles and may put the decision up to the voters at the May 4 Annual Town Meeting.

The measure was initially discussed during a March 12 meeting, with Newman explaining the reasoning behind the articles. "Both of these positions are currently staffed by competent and excellent employees but both of their tenures are coming to an end and so the positions become vacant." Newman went on that if the positions were appointed it would help to ensure that qualified individuals were working in both offices.

The Highway Department has one of the largest budgets in town as well as a fairly large staff to manage. In addition, there are multiple state mandates that must be understood and adhered too. "Although now we have a very competent and qualified individual, that may not always be the case in the future," said Newman of the Highway Surveyor's position. Selectman Rich Schofield added if the position were to remain elected, an 18-year-old could run and win the seat.

In an interview after the March 26 meeting, Tetreault agreed his job should be appointed by the Selectman saying, "It's not just building roads and plowing snow. It's managing staff and overseeing a million-dollar budget. I'm responsible for 60 miles of road in this town. It's also about dealing with the public and understanding town government. I really like my job and 99 percent of the people I deal with are great but there's a lot more involved that people realize."

However, Bonderenko said she disagrees with making her position appointed. "I have a big problem with it," she said. "This office is supposed to be the office of the people; of impartiality. If the Town Clerk is appointed, it puts politics into the office." She also added the position is one that can be learned. "I learned from the ground up. There are so many resources out there to help," said Bonderenko.

The Annual Town Meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 4, at Miscoe Hill School and will begin at 7 p.m.


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