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15 resumes so far for replacement township clerk

January 19, 2011 - Concerned about candidates seeking an easy paycheck and benefits, Trustee Neil Wallace suggested reducing pay for the new, replacement township clerk.

His suggestion: a dollar a year. Former Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen's salary was $69,875.

"We can at this juncture uniquely alter the compensation of the new clerk," Wallace said.

Once the Independence Township Board picks its candidate to appoint, it can readjust pay based on that person's skill set, he said.

The idea was defeated, 5-2, at a Jan. 11 special meeting. Wallace and Trustee David Lohmeier voted yes.

"It's a radical approach, but it's also not something that's as ludicrous as it sounds," Lohmeier said. "It would allow us to market price the position."

Treasurer Curt Carson disagreed.

"They should know what it is they're pursuing, especially if they're looking at giving up something else," Carson said. "I just don't think we should play around with it. I think we should be clear, make it simple and let's get some good candidates in there."

Trustee Larry Rosso also felt it would "undermine the process."

"It sends the wrong message," Rosso said. "It's going to shrink the pool because they're going to misinterpret it."

Wallace also proposed appointing a three-person selection committee. All three would be residents and registered voters of the township, and one of the three would be a municipal attorney.

Resident Jim Reed said he recognized "how critical it is to have a great selection of clerks," but also wondered why the board limited the selection committee to three people.

"I think if there were five people there would be more different input and viewpoints looking at the candidates, which might actually reinforce the process," Reed said. "Take a hard look whether you really want three or not."

Trustee Mark Petterson was not particularly in favor of a committee.

"I don't want to leave it up to a committee or anybody to make selections for me and than bring them to me, I don't want anybody excluded from this," Petterson said. "I think that every candidate needs to be looked at by every member of this board."

Trustee Dave Lohmeier liked the idea of public involvement.

"It's our responsibility to replace the clerk in the fashion the statute dictates," Lohmeier said. "It's not an election, so I kind of like the idea of getting the public in this, so a committee of three makes me feel like we got some involvement."

Treasurer Curt Carson agreed.

"I don't think if we were to get an overwhelming number of applicants that we could clearly in the time necessary go ahead and interview all those people," he said. "Having a separate committee is probably a good idea."

Supervisor Dave Wagner said all board members will see the resumes no matter what.

"That's not even a question," Wagner said. "If a individual board members choose to call them and talk to them and get input from them I don't see anything stopping them."

Discussion on the selection committee was set for Jan. 18. Fifteen candidates applied so far. Deadline for submitting resumes was today, Jan. 19. The Township Board voted 5-1 to set up the "Clerk Replacement Selection Process." Trustee Mark Petterson voted "no."

"The clerk's job is singularly the toughest job by design in township government," Wallace said. "We have a significant task and responsibility in front of us, particularly because we're taking the place of the voters."

According to the process, selection committee would provide three recommendations to the board by Feb. 1 Each township board member will also pick one candidate each from the resume pool. Interviews by the board will be Feb. 8 and 15.

"I think this is the most efficient way to go about it and allows everyone to be reviewed by the board if they didn't make the committee selection," Rosso said. "I really think this is an excellent process and really appreciate being included in the process as well."

The board accepted VanderVeen's resignation, effective Jan. 18. According to state law, the board has 45 days to appoint a new clerk before going to the county for a special election. March 4 would be the last day for the board to select a clerk.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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