A blind review will begin town clerk’s replacement

Names will be blacked out on applications for the town clerk’s position that the selectmen review — on the first look, anyway.

“We don’t want the name of a person to influence that initial review,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “What we’ll be doing is redacting any reference to personal emails — personal information.”

Each member of the Board of Selectmen will look at packets of information on all applicants for the job, with candidates identified only by numbers.

There were 17 qualifying applications as of July 30, and the deadline was the 4:30 p.m. end of town hall’s work day Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Board members will review and rate the anonymous candidates, whittling the group down to a manageable number.

“We’ll select three or four we feel are best suited to be town clerk of the Town of Ridgefield,” Marconi said, “and those three or four will go on to interview with the Board of Selectmen.”

Marconi said he wasn’t sure when the applicant interviews will be scheduled.

“We’re hoping to vote August 13th. Interviews will be before that,” he said.

The interviews might even be the afternoon of that meeting, he said.

Town Clerk Barbara Serflippi — who announced her retirement July 5, giving the town a retirement date of Aug. 31 — has been lobbying the selectmen to appoint someone soon and allow a couple of weeks, at least, for her to work with the new town clerk.

With the new town clerk taking over officially on Sept. 1, there’ll be just two months before the November election.

“We have a state election in November,” Marconi said. “We have charter questions on the ballot in November. And we’re probably going to have a WPCA question on the ballot in November.”

The “WPCA” is the Water Pollution Control Authority, and a question on the ballot is likely to seek voters’ authorization to spend in the vicinity of $50 million on a sewer plant renovation project.

So, there’s a lot the new town clerk will need to deal with, and should know about. That comes on top list of some 40 town clerk’s duties. The town clerk, whose tasks cover a wide range:

  • “Records and maintains deeds, liens, mortgages, attachments, legal documents and provides for the security of all legal documents recorded...

  • Issues certified copies of birth, marriage and death certificates...

  • “Collects and monitors campaign-financing forms for local election candidates...

  • “Issues licenses: marriage, fish and game (17 different types), dog licenses, boating applications, burial and disinterment permits and cremation certificates, preferred live birth certificates…”

  • “Reports daily to Finance Department accounting for fees collected.”

  • “Collects and monitors campaign-financing forms for local election candidates.”

  • “Records and maintains military discharges.”

Because the town clerk’s position isn’t just a job or administrative position but an elected office, the new town clerk must be a Ridgefield resident and voter — only town electors can run for municipal office — and when an official was elected on a party’s line the charter requires that new person appointed to fill the vacant position be of the same party. In this case that means a Republican, since retiring Town Clerk Barbara Serflippi was elected on the GOP ticket.

Monday afternoon Town Human Resources Director Laurie Fernandez said she had 18 applicants — 17 Republicans and one unaffiliated voter. Fernandez said the unaffiliated applicant and others seeking the position who aren’t Republicans would be informed they need to join that party to be considered for the job, due to the charter.