Town clerk resigns two days after taking office, new clerk appointed

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Newly appointed Town Clerk Candace McHugh takes the oath of office after former clerk Laura Jane Barry resigned effective Jan. 7. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

COEYMANS — Newly elected town clerk Laura Jane Barry submitted her resignation two days after taking her oath of office.

The town board appointed Candace McHugh, formerly the confidential secretary to the town supervisor, to the post effective Jan. 7.

Candace McHugh is the sister-in-law of Town Supervisor George McHugh, who abstained from the vote.

“We were notified Monday of Laura’s resignation,” George McHugh said Friday. “Time was of the essence and the town board and key staff felt that Candace was the best candidate to carry the town through the rest of 2022 until a new town clerk could be elected on Nov. 8, 2022, and take office Jan. 1, 2023.”

Barry took the oath of office Jan. 1, along with other town officials elected in November, and submitted her letter of resignation Jan. 3, citing “medical reasons,” George McHugh said.

Barry declined to comment further on her reasons for resigning.

The town board held a special meeting Jan. 7 to accept Barry’s resignation and appoint her replacement, along with several additional related resolutions.

Town Councilwoman Marisa Tutay presented the resolution accepting Barry’s resignation, which was also submitted to the New York State Board of Elections and the secretary of state, according to the resolution. Barry’s resignation was effective Jan. 7.

“Laura, I wish you the best of luck,” George McHugh said after the resolution was unanimously adopted. “I know this is a very hard decision for you and emotional, but you have to do what is best for your health. I just wish you the very best going forward.”

Deputy Town Supervisor Daniel Baker bid Barry a fond farewell. Baker and Barry were both elected in November on the Republican slate, Baker for his second term on the town council.

“When you go out on the campaign trail, you learn a lot about the people you are running with,” Baker said. “Me and Laura spent a lot of time together — I just want to wish you all the best, Laura. We had some good times and I know whatever you do, you will do great at. Good luck, and I hope everything is well for you.”

Baker also congratulated Candace McHugh on her appointment.

The second resolution of the night accepted Candace McHugh’s resignation as confidential secretary to the supervisor, a post she has held since George McHugh took office January 2020.

“It is certainly with mixed emotions for all of us that we vote on this, but I think for the best interests of Coeymans, we know what we have to do,” George McHugh said.

The next resolution, presented by Town Councilman Brandon LeFevre, appointed Candace McHugh to the town clerk’s post effective Jan. 7. The position will be up for a special election Nov. 8 of this year.

George McHugh — whose brother is married to Candace McHugh — abstained from the vote, with the four remaining board members voting in favor of the appointment. Town Justice Thomas Frese issued the oath of office.

“Thank you very much for the opportunity,” Candace McHugh told the board after being sworn into office.

A subsequent resolution appointed the new town clerk as registrar of vital statistics for an annual stipend of $500, effective Jan. 8 and expiring Dec. 31. She was also appointed freedom of information officer and records management officer. All three positions are commonly held by the town clerk.

The fifth resolution of the night appointed former deputy town clerk Bonnie Keyer as a part-time clerk. Keyer retired at the end of 2021 but agreed to return as a part-time clerk to help train the new town clerk and new deputy clerk, Sherle Slingerland, who was appointed Jan. 1. Keyer’s part-time position, at an hourly rate of $20.90, was effective Jan. 10.

“I would like to personally and publicly thank Ms. Keyer,” the town supervisor said. “She just retired as a deputy town clerk of many years and she has graciously and very generously agreed to come back and help train our new clerk and our new deputy clerk, and for that I want to thank Bonnie Keyer. I appreciate the fact that she is taking her time and efforts to do that.”

The final resolution appointed Carly Morrow the new confidential secretary to the supervisor at an hourly rate of $21.18, effective Jan. 18.

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