New Haven may be in for a rare political campaign this year: a contested race for the office of city clerk.
Westville Alderman Sergio Rodriguez (pictured) has filed papers forming an “exploratory” committee for a run as a Democrat for the position.
The current city clerk, Democrat Ron Smith, said Tuesday that he plans to run for a sixth two-year term.
The clerk’s job, technically called “city/town clerk” and a 20-hour-a-week position, pays $46,597 a year. The clerk conducts roll calls at Board of Aldermen meetings and technically oversees the clerk’s office, where people file official papers ranging from lawsuits and real-estate sales to committee formations and petitions to run for public office. A full-time staff deputy, Sally Brown, actually runs the office day to day. The office has a $471,808 annual budget.
The position rarely attracts much attention at election time; the clerk has traditionally run on the same ticket as the endorsed Democratic mayoral candidate, often placed on the ticket for racial balancing.
But this year all bets are off because 20-year incumbent Mayor John DeStefano is retiring.
Rodriguez said he formed an exploratory committee, rather than dive into the race itself, because he first wants “to make sure I have the support to do it” and can “form a good, strong, solid campaign team” to run citywide. Rodriguez has served as Ward 26’s alderman for the past nine years. He also ran for state representative against incumbent Pat Dillon. He noted he has yet to run a citywide campaign, which is why he wants to ensure he has the capacity to pull it off.
“I’ve developed some skill sets around constituent services” that would make him a good city clerk, Rodriguez said. He said the office “should be out more in the community.” He has served for two years on the board of the National League of Cities and as president of HELO (Hispanic Elected Local Officials).
Incumbent Smith has already registered as an official candidate. He said he feels he has done a good job for 10 years and will “continue to.”