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January 16, 2014

N.H. could make town clerks appointed

Proposed bill would change jobs from elected positions

(Continued)

“There needs to be a buffer between the citizen and the town,” Gonyer said. “The people feel most comfortable calling the town clerk which they elected.”

Gonyer said she received support from several legislators on the committee. She also said Secretary of State Bill Gardner was against the bill. Gardner could not be reached for comment.

Rep. Jeffrey Oligny, R-Plaistow, said he hadn’t been approached about the bill, but would likely vote against it.

“It’s really the democratic way to elect the town clerk,” Oligny said. “Appointments are too prone to personal bias. I tend to allow the people to have a say in who it is who works for the government.”

Plaistow Town Clerk Maryellen Pelletier opposes the bill.

“We don’t need selectmen to poke their nose in where they don’t need to,” Pelletier said. “That hasn’t happened here, but there would be lots of trouble when they do things that the RSA’s wouldn’t allow them to.”

But Plaistow Selectman Daniel Poliquin would support the change.

“I think it would be a better option for Plaistow,” he said. “It would allow towns to control their own destiny so to speak. We’d get a little more control over the position and things could run more efficiently.”

In Plaistow, the voters decide whether the town clerk deserves a raise. Poliquin said they have denied raises several times in the past. This year, a warrant article has been proposed that would allow selectmen to control the town clerk’s salary.

“Most of the other towns have built in something like that already,” Pelletier said.

Under the bill, selectmen would have complete say over the town clerk’s hours and salary.

Hampstead Town Clerk Patricia Curran said she wouldn’t mind if the nature of the position changed.

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