New Canaan resident Claudia Weber is seeking the endorsement of the Republican Party for re-election for town clerk. We put some questions to the incumbent about her candidacy. Our exchange follows.
New Canaanite: Tell us about yourself—how long have you lived in New Canaan, what have you been involved with here in town and what led to your decision to seek re-election?
Claudia Weber: My parents moved here when I was just three years old, and I consider myself a lifelong New Canaanite. I was born into a political family that was very active in politics, including my mother who served as New Canaan’s Republican registrar of voters for nearly 25 years. I like to believe that my family’s work and influence helped to make New Canaan the great town that everyone has wanted to move to ever since. They instilled the value, the honor, and the duty of public service into every fiber of my being. I attended New Canaan Public Schools, and graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After graduating, I worked for an independent expenditure committee called “Americans for an Effective Presidency” which raised millions of dollars for federal candidates across the country that supported Ronald Reagan’s bid for president. From there, I served on the staff of U.S. Senator Paula Hawkins (R-FL), and was then appointed by the Reagan/Bush administration to be one of two confidential assistants to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Honorable Malcom Baldridge. I returned to Connecticut to serve on the re-election campaign of Congressman Stewart B. McKinney (R-CT), and have previously served on other federal, state and local Republican campaigns. I was elected twice as New Canaan’s Republican registrar of voters, and after our former Town Clerk Mary Ritter announced her retirement in 1997, I shared with her my interest in running for the position, after which I ran for the office. I have been New Canaan’s town clerk since 1998. Unlike most of the other local seats now up for election, the position of town clerk receives a salary and has been my full-time career for the past 24 years. I’ve dedicated my adult life to serving New Canaan, and I’d like to continue to do so in my role as New Canaan’s Town town clerk. I am also a founder and serve as president of one of Fairfield County’s oldest animal welfare organizations, Strays & Others, Inc. A tragic fire in New Canaan, where two elderly people perished in a fire, along with 20 of their 40 animals, was the event that changed the trajectory of my life. There were no rescue groups back then, and as a result, with the support of a few other very dedicated animal lovers, we created New Canaan’s first animal rescue organization. We are proud of nearly 5,000 successful permanent placements, including dogs, cats, pocket pets, and even three horses. Three decades later, the organization remains active, and needless to say, I never returned to Washington, D.C.
What have been your biggest contributions to the elected body/office for which you are seeking GOP endorsement at the July 20 caucus?
Town clerks tend to serve over many decades because the learning curve is so great. In my 24 years as town clerk, I am proud to have achieved so many advancements and improvements in my tenure. I have taken the office from six typewriters and one computer screen into the 21st century by implementing modern technology and re-engineering processes that have led to increased efficiencies. I have overseen an office which in the last fiscal year produced $16 million dollars in fees for services and collections for the town and for the state. I have navigated 24 years of changing state statutes and mandates, and have 24 years of experience with local, state and federal elections. With my experience on the last presidential election, especially with absentee ballots, I am prepared for any changes to election law that the state of Connecticut throws our way. I have overseen the referendum process numerous times. I instituted the Town’s first Records Management Program, and continue programs and processes to preserve our town’s historical records for generations to come. I have also seen and encouraged the filings, maintenance, and preservation of minutes and agendas from two compliant board, commissions and committees in 1998 to more than 54 in 2021. I am a champion of the Freedom of Information Act at the same time as being fiercely protective of our residents’ right to privacy. This year, I prevented the social security numbers of our residents from being posted online. I have loyally supported my party while at the same time delivered fair and equal service to opposing and minor parties. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, I am honored to have the respect and confidence of our residents regardless of political affiliation or thought. I am here to serve.
What is your vision for the elected position for which you are seeking re-election?
My vision for the office is one in which there continues to be a balance between technology and a helpful, human element. Impartiality and independence are absolutely essential. Checks and balances must be maintained. At no time should there be any conflicts of interest. The office must continue to be a dependable professional link between residents, local offices, and state agencies. And most importantly, the public must continue to have trust and confidence in the town clerk as a knowledgeable and experienced election official, to conduct the absentee ballot process fairly and accurately. The town clerk’s office has become the “face” of Town Hall for many residents. Whether they are obtaining a birth certificate to enroll their child in school, licensing their dog—personally my favorite time—refinancing their home, obtaining an absentee ballot or looking for general information, the town clerk and her team provide valuable direction and guidance. Residents should be welcomed with reliable information and with the assurance that public information is available and that confidential information shall remain protected. In order to deliver exceptional customer service, it is essential that the town clerk has a complete awareness of the state statutes, regulations and policies that apply to the office. At the end of the day, it’s just not about managing records. There is definitely a human element to what we do as town clerks. My office is often open beyond normal business hours to help any resident in need, and I have made many a house call to those who are homebound. I believe in serving with kindness, and that listening is important. Impartiality is imperative. Flexibility, diplomacy, conflict resolution and problem solving skills are needed. Beyond a depth of experience and knowledge, these are the attributes that I will continue providing as your town clerk. To learn more about me, my experience, and my achievements as town clerk, please visit my website. I ask for your continued support.
[Editor’s Note: Between June 28 and July 9, NewCanaanite.com is publishing Q&As with local Republicans seeking party endorsement for elected offices in contested races at the July 20 GOP caucus. We will publish letters of endorsement for the Republican caucus and Democratic endorsement meeting through July 9. Comments are disabled on this post.]