Election Brings Changes to Several Town Positions

Both new faces and incumbents won office in Town elections March 8, and with retirements, the Town will see changes in the Town Clerk and Town Moderator posts. For a look at the election:

Town Clerk

Dan Healey has been doing his homework.

The longtime Derry resident and Pinkerton Academy graduate spent several hours March 9 with outgoing Town Clerk Denise Neale, after winning her job in the March 8 election.

Healey won over attorney Kathryn Polizzotto, 1,233 to 908. Neale did not seek re-election.

Healey gave his notice at his former job and was scheduled to start work in the Municipal Center this past Monday.

He does not feel overwhelmed, he said, noting, “Denise has made it easier for me. There’s a lot of information to take in, but she’s organized it for me. She is trying to make the transition as easy as possible for the next person.”

Healey was an honor student at Plymouth State University and worked in business until the election.

Supervisors of Checklist

Judy Strakalaitis has her work cut out for her.

Strakalaitis, a former legal editor and incumbent Supervisor of the Checklist, garnered 1,534 votes to challenger Janet Fairbanks’ 739 for a six-year Supervisor of the Checklist post. With the town election in her rear-view mirror, she and fellow Supervisor Pat Dowling are busy preparing for the Presidential election in November – and to replace their boss.

Chairman of the Supervisors Renee Routhier has given her notice to resign effective March 31. The March 8 election was her last as a Supervisor.

While checklist work is in her blood – both her parents were Supervisors – Routhier said she was working three jobs, and the other two were “a lot less stressful” than the checklist work.

Still, she said she enjoys the work and plans to be involved with elections, as a ballot clerk or a consultant to the new Supervisor.

With Routhier’s position not on the ballot, Strakalaitis said, she and Dowling now must appoint a third member of their group.

Strakalaitis’s goal remains “making sure we have the cleanest checklist in the state.” It’s also the largest and most complicated checklist, she said, noting that cities are divided into wards, and when someone changes wards, “it’s like moving to another town.” Derry, in contrast, has one checklist. And it’s big.

Once the new member is appointed, the Supervisors will begin preparing for November. While there were few new registrations at the town elections, Strakalaitis said she and the others will most likely see up to 1,000 registrations for the General Election.

But she has high hopes for Derry, noting, “I’m proud of the way we survived the political controversy last year.” Even with a low voter turnout for March, it was still higher than last year’s March elections, she said, adding, “It was the best field of candidates I’ve seen since I’ve been in this town. People are more engaged.”

Derry Public Library Trustees

Challenger Elizabeth Greenberg and incumbent Elizabeth Ives took the two open three-year terms for Derry Public Library Trustee. Ives, also the chairman, won 1,570 votes and Greenberg took 1,049 to incumbent Joan Crimlisk’s 707.

In a phone interview last week, Ives said she has big plans for her next term.

She’s helping the library staff develop the next Authors’ Day, planned for April 2. “We are looking to build that up – New Hampshire is so rich in authors,” Ives said. But some of the authors come at a price, so they will be researching grants and other funding, she said.

There are also plans in the works to initiate a Poet Laureate program for Derry, she said.

As is appropriate for a library, “We’re concentrating on writers,” Ives said.

She’s also proud of what’s been accomplished in the Children’s Department under Children’s Librarian Nicole Giroux, especially the Sensory Story Time for children on the autism spectrum. “We’d like to see her grow that,” Ives said.

She is sad at the pending retirement of Sherry Bailey, the adult services coordinator and a familiar face at the reference desk. They have hired Elizabeth Ryan to replace her, Ives said, adding with a smile, “That’s a lot of Elizabeths.”

Greenberg, also reached by phone last week, said her personal goal is to continue to learn more about the operation of the library and to get to know the staff.

For the library, she said, “I hope we can continue to build on the wonderful programs we have, and continue to make it a vibrant center of the community.”

Town Moderator 

Mary Till, a retired chemical engineer and social worker, won the Town Moderator position with 1,644 votes to Attorney Kevin Coyle’s 738. She’s worked with retiring Moderator Margaret Ives on several elections and said, “Right now I’m going to sit down with Margie and learn all the things that happen behind the scenes. I’m going to learn how the period running up to the elections is handled.”

Her “baptism by fire” will be the Presidential general election in November. But Till expects to sharpen her skills on one election between now and then. “I’m so happy,” she said, “that there is a primary before then.”

Taylor Library Board of Trustees

Jillian Klok has been reelected to the Taylor Library Board of Trustees.

Klok received 230 write-in votes to David McPherson’s 68 in the March 8 elections.

Klok was an incumbent, appointed last year to finish the term of a trustee who moved out of Derry. Due to a mix-up, her name was not listed on the ballot, Klok said.

“The library got a call from the Town Clerk after the filing period was closed, and the position was listed as a write-in,” she said.

But she’s happy to serve again under any conditions, Klok added.

Klok, her husband, Garrett, and two daughters moved to Derry three years ago. At that time daughter Eve was 5 and Mae was 1 1/2. She drove past the historic Taylor Library in the center of East Derry, walked in and, Klok said, “never walked out.” She and the girls went in two or three times a week, with up to 40 books taken out at a time, she said.

When she was asked to pinch-hit as a trustee, Klok didn’t hesitate. “How could I say no to being part of the administration of something I love so much?” she asked.

Her family has taken advantage of library programs such as the Summer Reading Program, the midsummer Carnival Night, and the Dolly and Me Tea Party. “This Tuesday we’re going to a LEGO event in the afternoon and the St. Patrick’s Day story hour at night,” she said.

And Eve is following family tradition and coming up in the ranks as a volunteer, Klok said. A teenager, Nick Burke, now runs most of the “holiday” story hours, with the exception of the Polar Express at Christmas. Eve has been helping Nick and reading to younger children, Klok said.

“It’s an apprenticeship she might not have in other places,” Klok observed.

While the library was considered for closure three and four budget cycles ago, Klok said she hadn’t heard anything about closure this year. “It’s all speculation, it’s only gossip,” she said. She’s taking it one day at a time – with an armload of books.

Veteran trustees Candace Andrews, chairman, and Kim Burke were also reelected to their posts. One three-year term was not filled.