Democratic incumbent Town Clerk Joan Bielizna was appointed in April when then-Town Clerk Lori Kaback left for the same position in Wilton. She is seeking election to a term of her own. Danbury Republican State Representative Jan Giegler says she decided to run for the office of Danbury Town Clerk because she wanted to expand her public service.
It's a very diverse position, dealing with vital statistics, land records, elections and licensing. It's one of the busiest offices in City Hall.
Bielizna says she has always considered working for the City an honor and a privilege. Her father was a Judge of Probate for 20 years in Danbury. She worked in the Probate Court when she was in high school and college. Bielizna says she understands the Town Clerk function: preserving the history of Danbury. The Town Clerk keeps land records along with birth, marriage and death certificates. She says it's a living history, a responsibility that she takes personally and seriously.
Giegler says it's an office that was run extremely well by Kaback, and she wouldn't make changes. Giegler says she wants to spend the time to see how it's run and to learn.
The legislature works on a two year term and the first session is a long one, with a short session running from February to May in the second year. Giegler notes that it is a part-time position and felt this would be a good time to transition to city work. She will complete her term, wrapping up 14 years in the General Assembly. Danbury City Hall is only open four days a week, and Giegler says she only expects state committee work for the first two months of the session.
Bielizna says she knew what the position required before being appointed. As a realtor, she was constantly in and out of the office looking at land records. She credited the staff for doing an incredible job at working together, especially since they are short staffed. She says what they've been able to accomplish now that things are computerized, including generating all kinds of reports, is great.
Giegler feels that her private sector administrative experience and her many years in General Assembly make her uniquely qualified to meet the demands of the position. She touted her organization and leadership skills, job committment and working hard. She called it a fast-paced office and demanding environment that needs all of those qualifications. Some of the committees she has been a member of in the General Assembly did statutes and regulations for the office of Town Clerk.
Bielizna was able to secure grant funding to continue the back file conversion and upgrade the storage system. All of the City's land records are being made electronic so there is no more wear and tear on the books. For example, every time someone needs a deed, the pages currently have to be removed to be photocopied. All land records will then be able to be printed from a computer.
Bielizna says there are over 400,000 pages in the back file. Her office also licensed over 1,800 dogs this year. The office is also charged by the State of Connecticut by filing all documents related to the elections and candidates.
Bielizna says she continues to look for ways to streamline operations.
Giegler says while it's an elected position, and that person has to follow the City Charter and state statutes, it shouldn't bear political influence.