Candidate profile: Michele Bissonnette for Town Clerk
Incumbent Town Clerk Michele Bissonnette said she loves her job, and hopes to continue her outreach to Wareham’s young people if reelected.
She’s running for a second three-year term. Bissonnette’s first experience with the role was in the Mattapoisett Town Clerk’s office, and before her time in Wareham, Bissonnette was the assistant Town Clerk in Marion for 12 years.
During her first term, Bissonnette implemented poll pads — electronic check-in systems — to help election days run more smoothly. She also upgraded the voting booths and worked with high school volunteers to create an automated system that ensures business owners receive timely reminders when its time to renew their licenses.
If reelected, Bissonnette said she hopes to make electronic voting a permanent part of Town Meeting. Electronic voting devices allow voters to cast their votes privately by pushing a button rather than by raising a card and give an automatic vote count to the moderator. Bissonnette said she’d worked with Town Moderator Claire Smith to bring the machines to a past Town Meeting, but financial and staffing pressures have made it difficult to find a long-term solution.
Bissonnette, a former teacher, said she loves working with the town’s young people. Currently, she said there are nearly 200 teens who have pre-registered to vote. She’s also working with the high school to allow 16 and 17 year olds to work at the polls on Election Days.
“This is my livelihood,” Bissonnette said. “I love it, and I really truly am invested in it.”
Bissonnette said she works to make sure her office is easily accessible when people need it. Callers only leave voicemails, she said, when all three people in the office are on the phone or working with residents at the counter.
She said she doesn’t foresee bringing notary services back to the office for several reasons. First, she said that the employee performing notary services would need to have their own insurance to cover that work. Second, she said she once had an employee miss two days of work after being called to testify in a court case related to notary work she’d done in Town Hall.
About the possibility of bringing more records online, Bissonnette said that process is more complicated than it may initially seem: Payment processing, ensuring people have the required documents and making sure confidential information stays confidential can be difficult online.
She said she tries to bring some fun to the job while making sure to get people the help they need and complying with the laws that regulate her position.
“I think I treat people fairly, with respect and with a sense of humor,” Bissonnette said.