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Weston Panel Nixes Appointed Town Clerk Proposal

WESTON, Conn. – The Charter Revision Commission has decided to retain the office of town clerk as an elected instead of appointed position. The move comes in response to negative comments at the April 25 public hearing , when citizens opposed proposals to make the town clerk and tax collector appointed positions.

Kenneth Edgar, the commission co-chairman, moved Wednesday night to keep the town clerk an elected official, with the possibility of the office becoming appointed if 5 percent of registered voters file a petition to vote on the measure at a town meeting.

Edgar said the petition would be “an escape valve” that would allow the position to become appointed if residents ultimately desired it.

But he said the tax collector should become appointed because that would be “beneficial to the town.”

Commission member Woody Bliss initially opposed Edgar’s proposal. “Let the voters vote,” he said. But other commission members approved and asked Edgar to put his proposal in writing so it could be considered and possibly inserted in the Charter Revision Commission report before it is sent to the Board of Selectmen.

Pat Sullivan, the town attorney, appeared at Wednesday night’s meeting to comment on the legality of the charter changes. She said a removal provision that would allow the Board of Selectmen to remove an elected official for “malfeasance, negligence, conviction of a felony or abandonment of office” may be legally impermissible because Connecticut towns don’t have the authority to remove officials.

In the past, town officials have resigned amid scandals but weren’t removed, she said. State laws may change to make removal permissible, but towns currently lack  the statutory authority to remove elected officials.

Sullivan said the rest of the commission’s changes were acceptable. “Everything’s in line and nothing is legally impermissible,” she said.

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