Letter to the editor from Lucy von Brachel
One would expect an incumbent to be prepared to defend her record in office, but Town Clerk Carmella Budkins has shown an extraordinary
reluctance to do so – now and previously.
In early August, the Greenwich League of Women Voters (LWVG) sent the first of a series of correspondence concerning a scheduled October 30 debate between Ms. Budkins and her Democratic opponent, Molly Saleeby.
After multiple attempts over a 5-week period to reach Ms. Budkins in writing and by phone, she finally responded after business hours on the last possible day to confirm participation that she was unavailable. And notably, she did not offer alternative dates when she would be able.
And folks, this isn’t the first time. In 2011 – the only other time Ms. Budkins faced an opponent – she also was remarkably unavailable, turning down two suggested dates. This begs the question “Why is Carmella Budkins unwilling to answer directly to the electorate for whom she works?”
Greenwich Free Press (GFP) also recently offered to host a debate and in an October 6th GFP article, Ms. Budkins is quoted saying, “We have so many things happening, there is not one night free.”
With 29 days left, she cannot prioritize one night for conversation with the taxpayers and her challenger? The role of Town Clerk is an elected position! Carmella Budkins bills herself as accessible, in fact “Accessible” is part of her campaign tagline. It appears the opposite may be true.
If Ms. Budkins’ record is commendable, she should welcome the chance to speak on it. The Town Clerk should also be someone highly responsive. Carmella Budkins has demonstrated the contrary by not responding to the LWVG in a timely fashion.
There are many hard questions to which Town voters deserve an answer from Ms. Budkins. Voters need to understand why she ignored best practices and allowed the loose procedures uncovered in the 2018 audit of the Town Clerk’s office concerning the handling and reconciling of taxpayer dollars that could have led to fraud and malfeasance. Voters need to hear from Ms. Budkins why, in her responsibility as Town Clerk, she failed to notify a 2015 campaign treasurer (with whom she happens to be good friends) that the treasurer was late in filing paperwork as required by the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC). Ms. Budkins also failed to assess two separate late filing fees, also State mandated.
These and other issues should be addressed in an open forum, but alas, it appears Greenwich voters will hear only the sounds of silence from Ms. Budkins, at least in a setting where her claims are subject to response and rebuttal.
For this and many other reasons, I will be casting my vote for Molly Saleeby.
Lucy von Brachel