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Incumbent selectman to run for town clerk, too

SHELBURNE — Joseph Judd apparently can’t get enough of his town. He has been a selectman for 17 years, and now he wants to be the town clerk, too.

Judd is running for both seats in this year’s annual town election: a seventh three-year term on the Board of Selectmen and his first term as town clerk.

Judd is also the only town official facing an opponent in this year’s May 19 election, since James Gamache of Mohawk Trail is also running for that selectman’s seat.

“Town clerk is a position that I’ve always wanted to do,” said Judd, who recently retired after a 38-year career with the Blackmer Insurance Agency.

In Shelburne, the town clerk is elected to a one-year term. Besides issuing dog licenses and posting all hearing- and meeting notices on the town office bulletin board, the town clerk prepares local election ballots and oversees all election-related activities. The clerk records and certifies all town meeting votes and submits newly approved bylaws and zoning amendments to the state Attorney General’s Office. The town clerk swears in newly elected or appointed town officials, conducts annual town censuses, and issues marriage licenses and certified copies of birth, marriage and death certificates. Town clerks also assist the public with genealogical research. Retiring Town Clerk Beverly Neeley has said that all the online record-keeping now required means the job can no longer be done in a 20-work week. After serving as town clerk for a 21 years, Neeley announced in January that she wanted to retire and was not seeking re-election.

Judd said he realizes that the town clerk has a lot to do, but given his years serving on the Board of Selectmen, he said, “I think the learning curve is going to be relatively short for me ... I juggled a full-time job for 40 years with a part-time job as selectman for 17 years. If I didn’t think I could do a good job, I wouldn’t have put my name in. I thought long and hard about the way this might work.”

Judd said he had thought about running for Neeley’s position when she first announced her retirement, then watched to see who else might be interested. “When no one stepped up, I made the decision to run,” he said. “I think people should take out papers and run for these positions,” he said.

Judd said he has checked with the Massachusetts Ethics Commission to find out whether there would be a conflict-of-interest in being both a selectman and town clerk.

Massachusetts General Law’s “Conflict of Interest” statute (Chapter 268A, Section 20), says that an elected official may hold many elected positions, regardless of whether they are paid or unpaid offices. However, an elected official cannot participate in any discussion about changing the status of another of his or her elected posts. For instance, if a selectman was also town clerk, he could not deliberate as a selectmen on any pay raises for town clerk, or be part of any discussion on whether to change the town clerk role from an elected to an appointed position.

When asked if he thought being town clerk would interfere with his selectmen’s duties, Judd replied: “I think I can continue in this role. I’m not trying to run the town. I’m trying to serve the people. I had said ‘no’ back in January, and then no one stepped forward. I took out (nomination papers for town clerk) on the last day possible and returned them 10 minutes before the deadline. I think I have the knowledge and the savvy to generate positive interest in the town.”

The town clerk’s position pays about a $20,000 salary, which is not based on a specified amount of hours, but on the town clerk getting all the work done, as needed. Neeley said she has opted to work about 20 hours per week — often more than that — to get the work done in a timely manner.

Judd said he is prepared to work 23 to 26 hours per week in the town clerk’s office.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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