WESTBROOK – Lynda Adams, Westbrook city clerk, faces Sue Rossignol, the city’s former finance director, in the November elections.

Rossignol’s job was eliminated two years ago by newly elected Mayor Colleen Hilton. Rossignol has said she felt she was treated unfairly by her removal, and by a one-year ban from City Hall that came in March 2010. Hilton said Rossignol had approached her seeking her job back, and in a written complaint indicated that the former finance director made her feel “threatened and frightened.”

Not long after that ban expired, Rossignol was banned again in May 2011, after a series of visits to City Hall.

This week, the American Journal asked both city clerk candidates the same three questions in order to learn more about each candidate’s approach to the job. These are the responses:

Lynda Adams (D), incumbent

Address: 60 Adams Way

Political experience: Serving second term as city clerk

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: First and foremost, it would be my experience. I previously worked as an assistant clerk for Bill Clarke from 1989 to 1993 and have now worked as the city clerk for almost four years. I attained my Maine clerk certification last year and am working toward my master municipal clerk certification, which I should have within another two years.

Secondly, I have always been a firm believer that just one person can make a difference, good or bad, and I have worked hard to ensure the citizens have a positive experience when they interact with my office. I always treat people the way I would want to be treated. I show that to the public by returning their phone calls promptly, always getting them an answer, even if it has nothing to do with my office, and by always greeting them with a smile.

Q: Do you plan to run the clerk’s office differently than it was run in the past two years?

A: The clerk’s office was changed significantly this year by merging with the front line of the finance department. With this merger came new employees and cross-training existing employees on transactions they had never done before. Even though the staff has been trained, we haven’t had a chance to fully evaluate all our procedures. My goal is to continue making improvements on how we process transactions to make the office more efficient and to continue to improve customer service for the citizens.

Q: As you know, the charter commission is considering making the clerk’s job an appointed, rather than elected one. What are your thoughts on this?

A: I am wholeheartedly in favor of appointing the city clerk. The city clerk position really requires certain skills and abilities, and by electing your clerk you don’t know if that person has the ability to do the job properly. Plus, having an elected city clerk oversee elections brings obstacles, especially if they are opposed, such as what I’m going through right now. Normally, I help with every part of the election, but because I’m opposed I’m not able help with various aspects of the election and have had to hire additional staff to offset that. I hope the charter commission chooses to change the charter language to make the clerk position an appointed one, and I will do all I can to educate the public about why it is so important that this change happen.

Susan Rossignol (R)

Address: 54 Conant St.

Political experience: Charter commission member, former finance director

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: Forty years experience in municipal service. I hired four of the five employees currently working in the city clerk-finance office. They were well trained and always have and do give great customer service.

I recommended joining the finance-clerk departments several years ago, when Barbara Hawkes was city clerk, as a move to better serve our citizens and save tax dollars.

I have had an unwanted break in my career, and I want to get back to work full time serving Westbrook taxpayers. I understand being unemployed, and want to thank everyone that offered donations to my campaign. It is not my intention to accept donations to get a full-time position with the city. Please wish me good luck and give me your vote.

I am energetic, dependable and take great pride in doing a good job, always willing to learn and will be a certified clerk as quickly as the process allows following exactly the same process as the last two clerks, Lynda Adams and Barbara Hawkes.

Q: Do you plan to run the clerk’s office differently than it was run in the past two years?

A: This is a tough question as I have not been allowed into City Hall to see and feel the changes made. If any changes were needed I would involve the staff and make them part of the process.

I have heard that many cash controls and segregation of duties have been eliminated, and this is a major concern both for the taxpayers and the staff. We put cash controls and had many duties segregated so that transactions could be easily traced. These audit strategies in my mind are very important to safeguarding the city from fraud. All processes should again be reviewed and updated.

Customer service has always been a priority, and that will never change.

Q: As you know, the charter commission is considering making the clerk’s job an appointed, rather than elected one. What are your thoughts on this?

A: As a member of the charter commission, I have recommended that all management positions (including public safety and city clerk) be annually appointed. We (the charter commission) are currently reviewing this area of the charter, and no decisions have been made. In my experience over the past 32 years with Westbrook, this process has been successful – perhaps at time stressful for certain people, but also a tool that a new administrator may need. I also do believe that any future changes should be made with more decorum than in the last election. Mayor Spiller made changes, good or bad, but gave the individuals notice shortly after his election, giving them time to transition.

Other positions in the city family were given six months’ notice that positions were being eliminated.

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