eHop posed the following questions to our Town Clerk Candidates and we are posting their responses here exactly as submitted. We thank them for their time and for their commitment to Hopkinton. In addition we recommend voters watch the HCAM Contested Races Debate and the Women’s Club Meet the Candidates Night, both of which are available on the HCAM YouTube Channel.
TOWN CLERK, For 3 years, Vote for 1
- Connor B. Degan, 16 Daniel Shays Rd, Unenrolled • Degan Candidate Statement •Degan Facebook Page
- Henry R. Kunicki, 47 Teresa Rd, Republican • Kunicki Candidate Statement
Question 1: Town Clerk is a complex job including overseeing all federal, state, and local elections, preserving all vital statistics and documents, issuing licenses and permits, recording and certifying official action taken at Town Meeting. The International Institute of Municipal Clerks offers a Certified Municipal Clerk Program including extensive education and training for this role. Do you think certification is important? Do you plan to become certified?
Connor B. Degan: I think that certification is critical to the position and I am looking forward to attending the program. I have worked as part of the electoral process now for various state elections and have had the added bonus of working directly in the Hopkinton Town Clerk’s office where I have been privy to the day-to-day operations that are required of the position. I continue to express my sincere interest in serving my town – the town in which I grew up. I don’t look at this as an interim position, but as a place where I can use my education, my experience, and my enthusiasm to make a difference and to give back to this community. I have the added insight of already attending a municipal town clerk’s conference that I was invited to by our Hopkinton Town Clerk and I understand the many complexities along with the training requirements that will be essential in making my contribution to the position of town clerk successful.
Henry R. Kunicki: The Town Clerk position is a complex job and requires someone who has managed complex projects in their career. I have managed highly complex projects for both small and large companies along with working with all members of town government for over twenty years. Becoming a Certified Municipal Clerk will assist me in performing the duties of Town Clerk and I intend to become certified should I be elected Town Clerk.
Question 2: The Hopkinton Personnel Committee sponsored an Article to change Town Clerk from an elected to an appointed position, however it did not pass at Town Meeting. Meanwhile, the Charter Review Committee is considering the pros and cons of making this change. Do you think Town Clerk should remain elected or become an appointed position and why?
Connor B. Degan: In my opinion, the town clerk is a position that should always be accountable to the residents of the town and therefore should remain elected. The position of town clerk serves as the gatekeeper to the town hall and chief elections officer. I feel strongly that the position should remain party neutral so that it can serve town government without bias and is fully accountable to the people it serves and the law that it upholds.
Henry R. Kunicki: Town Meeting did not pass the Article to change Town Clerk from and elected to an appointed position because town members felt it the Charter Review Commission was a better venue to review the subject as it would allow them to hold public hearings before a recommendation is made. I agree with this decision. I am in favor of Town Clerk becoming an appointed position as it would allow the town to conduct a professional search for someone that best meets the job position requirements. The Town Clerk position is one that should be free of politics and candidates chosen solely on merit and I believe this is the best way of ensuring that in the future.
Question 3: The recording, preservation, and sharing of town data is a key responsibility of Town Clerk. In this digital age, how can the Town Clerk use new technologies to manage data and increase accessibility of data to the general public?
Connor B. Degan: Maintaining, innovating, and streamlining town data keeps residents informed and increases efficiency. I am an advocate for government transparency and will work with IT to resolve issues with viewing the agendas and minutes online so people can easily access information. I have valuable insight to the various digital communication available today and how best to utilize that. I am confident that I can work with the Community Preservation Committee to digitize the town records. I see a critical need to apply my skills to help implement technology in the clerk’s office to increase efficiency and reduce long-term costs.
Henry R. Kunicki: As Chairman of the Hopkinton CPC I fully supported the efforts of the past two Town Clerks in the preservation of old records. I encouraged the funding not only the physical preservation of old data but also digitizing these records and making them available on the web. I would continue the work funded by the CPC for this project. We will utilize cloud storage in addition to the physical storage of data and make all public records available as part of the Hopkinton Municipal web site.
Question 4: As Town Clerk, what will you do to increase voter awareness and participation?
Connor B. Degan: The town clerk has to continue to be a catalyst for voter education. I think there has been great strides, but I want to see even more when it comes to not only educating young voters, but making them active participants. They need to understand that their vote counts and it is key for them to understand the issues. I want to reach out to all residents about being involved and see a great value in educating our youth on the system early and cultivating a passion for self governance. I have already laid the groundwork to work with the schools to educate future voters and help our next generation become more informed and driven to be politically involved.
Henry R. Kunicki: I would encourage more utilization of social networking to make voters aware of all issues both for town elections and prior to Town Meetings. We need to encourage more citizens to participate in all Town Forums and making the warrant available on the web prior to Town Meeting would assist in meeting that goal.