After the first selectman and Town Council candidates participated in their debates June 23, town clerk and Board of Education candidates made short presentations to the Republican electorate.

Town clerk candidate Jennifer Purdy, who is challenging incumbent Claudia Weber, spoke about the different changes she would like to bring to the position, particularly to the budget.

"Our town clerk budget is high when compared to other towns and continues to increase every year and consistently [went] over budget the past four years by more than $20,000," Purdy said.

The two methods she said she would use to save money include applying for state grants, particularly a grant that is based on town population and not financial need.

"Secondly, a best practice that is currently being employed by other town clerk offices are high school interns," Purdy said.

She stressed the importance of using the New Canaan High School internship program to give students a real world experience as well as provide the town clerk's office with some inexpensive help.

Weber, in her presentation, stood by her experience in the position, which she has held for 14 years.

"Experience and knowledge count," Weber said. "When the flood occurred in Town Hall, we had over 2 feet of water in the basement and luckily I knew who to call and what to do. Had I not acted quickly, everything stored in the basement would have been lost forever. It was knowledge, experience and training that prevented that loss from happening."

After the town clerk presentations, the Board of Education candidates, who are running uncontested with three candidates for three open spots, took the time to say a few words as well. Gene Goodman, who served on the Board of Education for three terms and left that post in 2001, explained what drew him back to the board.

"When recently asked if I would consider running again, I sat down with [my wife] Susan, and after much discussion I proudly agreed. Like most of you, when we came here, we were willing to spend more money on our homes because of the excellent education the public school system provides," Goodman said. "Can we improve this system? Of course. My primary objective is to ensure that our town's substantial investments in quality education lead to continuous improvement and effectiveness of the system."

Scott Gress, who will be leaving his post as chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission, will return to his true passion of education as well. Gress previously served on the Board of Education for four years and was a part of the committee that brought Dr. David Abbey back as the superintendant.

"While I enjoyed being on the Parks and Recreation Commission and everybody there, my first love has always been kids. I relate to them better than adults. They're nicer, they're more honest and they're more fun," Gress said. "So I also think I can bring a perspective to the board that it may not have currently."

Hazel Hobbs, who currently serves on the Board of Education, will also be seeking another term this year.

"The town of New Canaan has financial challenges to continuing its outstanding educational excellence," Hobbs said. "The accolades that have come into our school system acknowledging outstanding performance of every age level in academics, athletics and the arts and other extracurricular activities as United Nations, debate [and] engineering are truly extraordinary. New Canaan stands out from our neighboring communities. Teachers, coaches, parents and students deserve to feel proud of their dedication. And the voters of New Canaan get to feel exceptionally proud of a school that their support has made possible."

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