New Democratic registrar part of changes in Waterford

Waterford - Residents will see a familiar face in a new role as well as changes to town government in the new year.

Diana Cramer, a four-term member of the Representative Town Meeting, will become the new Democratic Registrar of Voters, replacing Wendy Oviatt Pias, who stepped down in November. Cramer resigned her seat representing the 3rd RTM District on Dec. 7.

RTM Third District members plan to meet on Jan. 10 to elect Cramer's replacement. Her term is to expire on Dec. 5, 2011.

According to the town charter, only RTM members from the 3rd District may cast votes in the election.

The election will not change the 11-11 deadlock between Democratic and Republican members of the RTM.

Cramer, who taught elementary school in Norwich for 27 years, said she is looking forward to a new public service challenge.

"I enjoy politics and government," Cramer said.

Cramer said she wants to find ways to simplify the voter registration for town residents.

"There is too much paperwork," Cramer said.

Looking back at her decade on the RTM, Cramer said she is most proud of the change in the town's water billing method, which in 2009 went from a flat rate system to consumption-based formula.

The switch caused some controversy in town, but Cramer still believes it was the right thing to do.

"(The old system) was unfair to so many people," Cramer said.

Cramer also chaired the Public Protection Committee and lent support to the ongoing effort to build a new animal shelter.

RTM Moderator Sharon Palmer said Cramer did good job representing the 3rd Distinct.

"She served with candor and concern," Palmer said.

The New Year will also see a change in the budget adoption process.

Voters in November approved a charter change that gives the Board of Selectmen a vote on all town department budgets, except the education budget.

Prior to the charter change, some department budgets were approved directly by the Board of Finance.

First Selectman Daniel Steward said department budgets are due to his office on Jan. 4. Deliberations will begin Jan. 18.

In November 2011, the Fire Commission will hold its final meeting as voters approved its abolition at the polls. The commission will be replaced by a director of fire services which will oversee the town's fire companies.

The municipal elections scheduled for Nov. 8 will also see selectmen running for four year-terms, as voters approved lengthening their time in office from two years.

s.chupaska@theday.com

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