Cites diverse work experience and people skills
By Michael Turton
Ann Gallagher is seeking the office of town clerk for the Town of Philipstown in the upcoming November election. The Paper recently sat down with her to discuss her qualifications and a range of issues related to the position. The interview has been condensed and edited while staying true to Gallagher’s responses.
What qualifies you to be town clerk?
I have background in several different areas. I have worked in banking, education, legal and corporate. For the last 18 years I have worked as secretary for the Philipstown Planning Board, working from home and at the Town Hall. I’ve had the opportunity to see all the operations, every one of the offices within the Town Hall. It gave me the opportunity to see what works and what could be improved. And I have always loved working with people. It’s just my personality. I like to guide people, to help them.
What would be your top priorities if elected as clerk?
First and foremost it would be to bring the office up to date. We desperately need to focus on our website, to update and expand it, to offer several things through it, such as being able to download applications. The website is very minimal right now. My understanding is that in 2009 volunteers updated it and just put the minimal amount of information on it. Also in 2013, I understand that the present town clerk was thinking of hiring a consultant to actually take some information off the website, thinking that it was too much. My feeling is that you can’t have enough information. And it’s important to make it easy and functional for everybody.
We could also use a central phone system, so that if you walk into Town Hall and the clerk happens to not be there, or one of her deputies or any one of the other offices, if you have a question for any one of those offices you should be able to get an answer. If not, you should be able to contact somebody and know that your needs will be met at least within the following day, without having to go through the clerk. It’s a small enough office that everybody should be able to find the answer for anybody who walks in.
One of the things I look forward to is the Dahlia House — the construction and adding more room to Town Hall to help both the Planning Board and the Building Department with their files.
I would like very much for it to be a friendly, welcoming, relaxed place that people actually look forward to going to — not dreading it. It should be a place that encourages you to come in to find what you’re looking for.
As clerk, what would you do to help Philipstown comply with state demands that municipalities operate more efficiently, consolidate or share services, and save taxpayer money?
I think it’s a wonderful idea. In this community where you have Cold Spring, Nelsonville, Philipstown, I think it would save a tremendous amount of money. I think it would be good for everybody — the municipality and residents. It’s important to work together. I think people feel threatened when there is change, they don’t know the end result. We’ll never know the end result — whether it works or it doesn’t — but just like any other thing in life, you really have to go in full force and give it a shot.
Should the town clerk run in a partisan election as a Republican or Democrat every four years? Or should the clerk be hired by the town as a professional employee?
I believe that the position should be elected, that residents should have input as to who will be town clerk. I don’t necessarily believe that it should be Republican or Democrat. I don’t believe that it is a political situation. I believe the goal as clerk is to be the pivot for the town, to get out and give out as much information and to be as helpful as possible when someone needs guidance.
Why should voters pick you over your opponent?
Background-wise, I have worked in and have experience in several different areas. As Planning Board secretary I worked in the Town Hall keeping records, as the town clerk does. It’s imperative that you have that experience and know-how. I’m a people person. I’ve loved working with people in every job I’ve had. I’m sincere, I’m hardworking and I’m friendly. I believe I can do the job as town clerk in a very efficient way but at the same time be very warm.