Clerk to retire, race on to replace her

Town Clerk Sophie Morton is retiring after 28 years in Naugatuck.NAUGATUCK – After 28 years of serving as Town Clerk, Sophie Morton is ready to retire.

For the past three decades, Morton has been the face of an office that is usually the first stop for people when they don’t know where to go in town government.

Morton has been working for the town for a total of 39 years, serving as registrar of voters and assistant town clerk prior to being voted in as clerk. Now, she said, it’s simply time for her to step aside.

During her tenure, Morton only had opposition for the position once – on her first run for the office.

Traditionally, the position is cross-endorsed by borough Democrats and Republicans after someone is initially voted into office.

The progression from assistant to town clerk is somewhat of another tradition in Naugatuck. It’s a tradition Assistant Town Clerk Michelle Dowling hopes to continue in her bid for town clerk against Mayoral Aide Ed Carter.

Dowling, who received the Republican endorsement, has been assistant town clerk for 12 years and is certified through the Connecticut Town Clerks Association.

“She knows the ropes,” Morton said.

Dowling said becoming town clerk is just the natural next step for her.

“I love my job. I love what we do,” she said.

Most of her duties would be the same, she said, since as assistant she already acts as town clerk in Morton’s absence.

“I’ve really been taught by the best,” Dowling said.

The Democratic Town Committee endorsed Carter for the race. Carter said he is running for the position now because Morton is leaving.

“I’ve always been interested in statistics and numbers,” he said. “I’m kind of a history buff and I think there’s a lot of history in that office.”

Carter said he is dedicated to serving the town and has an extensive background in management.

“I think I would be a very good asset to the taxpayers and to the borough of Naugatuck in that position,” Carter said.

He said although there is a lot to learn for the position, he is willing and able to do it.

“I don’t fear learning,” he said.

If elected, Carter said he would work to computerize some of the information in the department to make it more accessible to the public.

The position of Town Clerk is a complicated one according to Morton.

The town clerk is in charge, among other duties, of land records, vital statistics such as births and deaths, and absentee ballots.

There are a lot of rules and regulations to follow, Morton said. She compared the job to the game she hopes to play in retirement; golf.

“It’s not just the swing. You have to know all the rules too,” Morton said.