The traditionally uncontested race for New Haven city clerk has turned into a four-way contest among incumbent Ron Smith and three challengers: two aldermen seeking to move up the ranks of city government and a running mate for one of the seven Democratic candidates running for mayor.
Ward 8 Alderman Michael Smart is the most recent candidate to join the fray. He announced Tuesday that he is throwing his hat in the ring for the part-time administrative position paying $46,597 per year.
“I desire to take the service offered by the City/Town Clerk Office to a whole different level,” Smart said in a press release, adding that he hopes to make information and records more accessible online. “[T]he office has to be much more user friendly and customer service oriented.”
The city clerk — who handles all public documents, including suits against the city, business licenses, land records and liquor permits — typically runs attached to the sitting mayor, usually to balance the racial composition of the ticket. Ron Smith, who is black, has served in the office for the past 10 years alongside Mayor John DeStefano Jr. With DeStefano’s announcement that he will not seek an 11th term in office this fall, the city clerk spot has drawn newfound attention.
Also vying for the position is Smart’s colleague on the Board of Aldermen, Ward 26 Alderman Sergio Rodriguez. He announced his candidacy at the end of March and has made similar promises to modernize the position and make records more available to the public.
Anne Weaver Lozon, a management consultant from Westville, rounds out the field, though she has not formally announced a candidacy. She has indicated that she will seek the city clerk office as a running mate alongside mayoral candidate and Hillhouse High School Principal Kermit Carolina. Probate Judge and former city clerk Jack Keyes said that practice is common.
“It’s like picking a vice president,” Keyes told the News in March, adding that he could only recall four contested primaries for the position in the last 35 to 40 years.