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Franklin voters to decide how future clerks are seated

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published July 7, 2020

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FRANKLIN — On the upcoming primary ballot, villagers in Franklin will be asked to vote on a proposal that could change the way the clerk’s position is filled.

Village President Pam Hansen explained that, since 1966, the Franklin clerk has been elected to the post by voters. For the last 21 years, that seat has been filled by Eileen Pulker, who has decided to retire this fall.

The Franklin Village Council decided to ask voters whether the job could be appointed by village administrators, since over the years, it has proven to require more experience than an average resident might have.

“The reasons for this proposal (has) more to do with our need, in our small office, to have people with skills that enable them to do a wide range of tasks,” Hansen said. “The responsibilities of the clerk have shifted over the years, and more and more is needed from that role.”

Election functions are handled by the clerk of Southfield Township, a municipality composed of Franklin and the villages of Bingham Farms and Beverly Hills. But the Franklin clerk assists with elections, Hansen said, and goes well beyond that to act as a kind of government liaison, processing permits, taking council meeting minutes and lots of other things.

“All village functions touch the clerk in one way or another, and at least in Franklin, the clerk is a primary community contact,” she said.

Bloomfield Township Clerk Sharon Tischler said her office has the election portion of things handled, so she’s not worried about someone coming in to take over in Franklin with a lot of experience managing ballots.

She also knows that her other jurisdictions, Beverly Hills and Bingham Farms, have clerks appointed by boards that are paid employees, and she said that works great. But there’s still something to be said for having a member of the community at the post.

“To be perfectly honest with you, it’s kind of a toss-up. If you want to start to go outside of the community to find a clerk who has experience and wants to go ahead and fill the position, that’s great,” Tischler explained. “But when they live in the community, they’re vested in going ahead and accommodating a neighbor, when it’s said and done. That is, if there’s someone in the community who wants to do the job.”

As for Pulker, she’ll be wrapping up her time at the helm in November. Asked what she has planned for her retirement, she said a break is not on the agenda.

“My only plans so far for retirement are all of the projects at home that have been neglected. Plenty to do,” she said.

To read the village of Franklin charter, visit franklin.mi.us.

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