Clerk's race in Salem could be close

Salem - In this small town, the seemingly minor race for town clerk may prove to be the most contentious.

First Selectmen Kevin Lyden said he expects it to be the closest race in town, possibly necessitating a recount. That's because there are two very good candidates running who already have experience in town government, he said.

Democrat Diane Weston, a clerk in the building department, is running against Republican Linda Flugrad, who is the assistant town clerk.

"I have not endorsed either one," said Lyden, who said he told the candidates that they were both great for the position and would have jobs in town hall regardless of the election results.

It may not seem like a big race, but "there's a lot riding on your town clerk," said Democratic Town Committee Chairman T.J. Butcher. He said he wants someone he trusts handling vital documents, land records and the like.

"I've known Diane for 20 years," he said, and she is "highly intelligent, very conscientious (and) very reliable."

"It's a good fit for me," said Weston, who said she was attracted to the idea of persevering the town's historical records.

Weston said the "many hats" she wears as a clerk for the building department, program coordinator for the recreation commission and an election volunteer have helped prepare her to be town clerk.

Town Clerk Patricia Crisanti, a Democrat who is retiring, endorsed Flugrad.

"It's not Republican or Democrat that gets you the job," said Crisanti, who has been town clerk for 12 years. "(Flugrad) is probably the only candidate at this point who is really qualified to handle the job."

Crisanti chose Flugrad as her assistant four years ago and described her as "very knowledgeable and helpful" and "a very nice, sweet lady." Editor's note: This corrects an earlier version of this paragraph.

"I love my job and love working with the people," said Flugrad, who has been working on scanning the town's land records so that they can be persevered electronically. She said she enjoys clerking because "every day is different."

Both Flugrad and Weston have taken some classes through the Connecticut Town Clerks Association. For Flugrad, the classes will count toward a certification, but Weston would have to retake the classes if elected.

Weston said she took the classes at her own expense even though she may have to re-take them because she wanted "insight" into the job.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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