This year’s Municipal Clerks Honor Roll drew nominations for more than 100 Municipal Clerks, including this special praise from one Wisconsin Clerk to all his peers.
The following was submitted by Chris Astrella, WCPC, Clerk/Treasurer for the Town of Oakland, Wisconsin and Past President of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association (2016-2017):
Instead of singling out one Municipal Clerk, I’ve chosen to nominate every Municipal Clerk and Deputy Clerk in Wisconsin for the 2020 Honor Roll. Why? We have all had to rely on each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wisconsin was scheduled to have an election on April 7 for the Democratic Presidential Primary, a State Supreme Court Justice and thousands of local offices including local elected boards, school districts and referenda. The weeks leading up to the election, and Election Day itself were something none of us had ever witnessed in our careers.
With the COVID-19 Pandemic reaching levels nobody could have predicted, we all scrambled to accommodate our voters as best as we could. Whether it was voting outside in their vehicles, limiting voting hours to encourage social distancing or sending absentee ballot applications to every registered voter, we all did our best to ensure our voters could exercise their right to vote.
As we inched closer to election day, the media started to grab on to how we were planning for election day and this is where we continued to educate and inform the public about what was happening, just on a larger stage. There has never been this much media coverage of our profession (ever), and we shined. Small election blogs, local weekly newspapers, Wisconsin Public Television, TV Stations from Madison, La Crosse, Green Bay and Milwaukee and even the New York Times (yes THAT New York Times) featured stories on how absentee ballots were being handled, the dangers we faced as essential employees and what we were doing to prep for election day. Everyone rose to the challenge…clerks in large municipalities, small ones and everything in between shared their stories of what we were doing for the world to read and see.
Leaders at the State level did not help matters for us, and this is where we really began to rely on each other. Information was literally changing every day (and sometimes even faster) and while elected officials were busy bickering and pointing fingers at each other, we had to pull together and figure out how to run this election. Poll workers were canceling on us left and right because they were at risk, and we all started to wonder how we would pull this election off. Clerks were sharing with ideas for how to obtain/create PPE, build shields to protect poll workers and voters, and create procedures on the fly so the integrity of the election was protected. The amount of information flowing among all of us was truly incredible to see, but what’s even greater is the amount of care, compassion and understanding we all had for each other.
This nomination is only supposed to be a paragraph long, but a paragraph doesn’t do all of us justice. The Clerks of Wisconsin demonstrated in a time of adversity great things can still happen when we work together. I look back on the April 7 Election and still can’t believe it really happened, it was almost an out of body experience. However, when I see the media coverage we received, the accolades from our residents and another successful election in my rear-view mirror, I know it was real. Thank you for your consideration for Wisconsin Clerks and Deputies to the Clerks Honor Roll.
2020 Municipal Clerks Honor Roll – coming soon!
The full list of honorees for the 2020 Clerks Honor Roll will be revealed on May 19th. In the meantime, view the 2019 list here.