Two candidates vie for Tisbury town clerk office

Two candidates vie for Tisbury town clerk office

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Hillary Conklin, left, and Barbara Lampson.

Tisbury Town Clerk Marion Mudge’s decision to retire after 30 years on the job has generated the only race on the ballot, a contest between Hillary Conklin and Barbara J. Lampson.

The town clerk fulfills five administrative roles, as the legislative administrator, chief elections officer and clerk officio of the board of registrars, chief public information administrator, public records officer and licensing administrator, and census and voter registration administrator.

The salary for a new clerk is $84,892.

In telephone calls and emails, Ms. Conklin and Ms. Lampson described their backgrounds and reasons for running for town clerk.

Hillary Conklin

Ms. Conklin grew up in Northampton. She studied land use management and parks administration at UMass Amherst, while working in her parents’ shops in Northampton.

“During college I summered here, working as a waitress, a house cleaner and a store clerk at Murray’s, before realizing the Island was my true home in 1985,” Ms. Conklin said.

Ms. Conklin is married to Tisbury police detective Mark Santon. For the past 16 years she has worked as the administrative secretary to the Tisbury selectmen.

During that time Ms. Conklin has taken on a variety of roles, as needed. She served as acting assistant to the town administrator in 2000, acting shellfish constable in 2009, and as a municipal union representative on a search committee for a new town administrator in 2012.

Ms. Conklin said she also oversaw the administrative details for old fire station demolition project, the town hall painting project in 2012, and the old fire station demolition project in 2013. In addition, she volunteered to serve on the town’s capital program committee for 10 years, the emergency services facility site committee, and on the Finance and Advisory Committee for the past year.

“Those who know me know that I am what you would call a ‘lifer’ at town hall and do not want to work anywhere else,” she said. “My colleagues are part of our town hall family, which puts me in a fortunate position. We have an exceptional team with Marion, Suzanne Kennedy, Tim McLean, and Aase Jones.”

Ms. Conklin said she first learned of Ms. Mudge’s plan to retire while talking with her when they were working late one day in January of this year.

“I began considering the idea of running for the town clerk pretty much as I do everything else,” she said. “If a person crosses my path that needs a little help or I recognize an issue that I might be able to bring something to, I jump in headfirst.”

Before making the leap, however, Ms. Conklin said she decided to do some homework. She attended a Massachusetts Town Clerks’ Association Conference with Ms. Mudge in Sturbridge in February.

“I thought if I took some classes to get my feet wet, then I could come to a decision,” she said. “I went with the encouragement of the town hall team.”

Ms. Conklin said in attending the classes, she realized she was learning only about a fraction of what are very involved subjects. Nevertheless, she said, the experience affirmed her interest in becoming town clerk and made her realize that although she has a lot to learn, it is doable.

“Knowing I had the support of the home team, I determined I could really do this,” she said.

Barbara Lampson

Ms. Lampson grew up in Chilmark and graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. She studied at Oberlin College and UMass Amherst in the department of landscape architecture and regional planning. She also did graduate studies at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies in landscape design and business.

Ms. Lampson moved to Los Angeles and worked as a production manager in the film industry for about 10 years. On her return to Martha’s Vineyard in 2006, she was hired as a coordinator by the Dukes County Charter Study Commission to assist with documentation and record-keeping during its 18-month review of county government.

Ms. Lampson now works three days a week as the children’s and programs librarian at the Aquinnah Public Library. She also works as a landscape designer, drawing up plans, and teaches various classes in landscape design for the Adult Community Education of Martha’s Vineyard. She lives with her partner, Andrew Worlock, and has a grown son, Ian Tripp, who attends Bard College.

“I’ve been involved in municipal work for a number of years now, and I really love being involved in the community.” Ms. Lampson said. “I put on an enormous number of community centered programs a week, for children, adults, and families.”

Her interest in town government and the process was sparked when she attended her first Chilmark town meeting at age 11, she said. In high school she served as a student representative to the school committee during the initial passage of Proposition 2.5 and was president of her class as a junior and senior.

“I’ve always been involved in these types of things, and I really believe in the town government system we’ve got, because the voters are really in charge,” she said.

“The town clerk position is unique in that you really work directly for the voters, and the position is of service to the voters,” Ms. Lampson added. “It’s not just things like records; you do everything, from helping them navigate how to do things like getting marriage licenses and all that sort of thing, to researching their genealogy.”

Ms. Lampson sees the town clerk’s role as being about service and also information. “I think I’d be good at that,” she said. “And the multitasking nature of the job is actually very similar to the managerial work I was doing in Los Angeles.”

This week, Ms. Lampson acknowledged that a portion of her 2013 taxes are overdue.

“All I can say is that I am a human being like anyone else, and I fell behind on my taxes during the recent economic downturn, and I have been working very hard to catch up on them since,” she said in an email.

Ms. Lamson said the tax collector is aware of her situation and that she has been making regular payments. “I have worked three jobs for the last five years to make up any arrears I may have had in any direction, while being involved in my community in many positive ways,” she said.


  1. “The salary for a new clerk is $84,892.” With the added benefits of health insurance and pension, I am surprised the candidates are lining up.

  2. It appears to me that insider information and favoritism are being used to shoe in the Pre-chosen candidate, What happened to honest Politics? Un-biased Reporting? I will vote that right out of Tisbury Government.

  3. This article’s a bit slanted toward Conklin.

    I knew Barb when she was at MV Regional High School – she didn’t just graduate,
    she was class president and a National Merit Scholar! And her
    “grown” son is a freshman at Bard – I’d call that “barely
    grown”. She wasn’t the only single mother in the recession to have
    trouble covering all her bills, and she’s catching up. Typically
    responsible. Barbara’ll make a great Town Clerk, I’m voting for her.

    1. Well, since she’s still supporting her son Ian at college, I agree – he’s not “grown” in any real sense.
      Barbara’s very smart, nice, and exceptionally hard working. She’s a good manager, too – ran a successful land design business for years in Pasadena (in fact, she was featured once on HGTV’s Desperate Landscapes as the winning designer, that was cool to see). She always missed home, though, and couldn’t wait to move back to the Vineyard. She’ll do a great job as Tisbury Town Clerk.

  4. Me-thinks Ed and Jeff are looking for a story where there ain’t one. When reviewing the candidates resumes’, you simply cannot avoid the fact that Hillary Conklin already has a job in Town Hall, doing a multitude of tasks professionally and skillfully. The fact that everyone performs their jobs so well in Town Hall, and gets along equally as well with their co-workers, that they all feel like “family” to one another, is meritorious, and certainly not cause for a “conspiracy theory” hinting of favoritism. While I am sure Barbara has her own skill set that might qualify her for the position, she must have known (or had someone remind her) that she would be considered quite a long shot by submitting her name for consideration for Town Clerk in Tisbury where the opposing candidate has a near impeccable curriculum vitae, including the fact that she has sixteen years as administrative secretary to the Board of Selectmen under her belt. The fact that Hillary loves where she works, loves the people she works with (and they, in turn love her) and loves the fact that she can move up into a better paying position in house, certainly cannot be held against her, even if the KGB is working tirelessly behind the scenes for her cause. One of the great things about American is we get to vote for who we like. Better yet, you can even place a bet on someone too. Logic, not any sort of coersion, tells me where my money would go in this race !

    1. Hillary does not love the people that come to her office. She has been frequently rude to those she doesn’t like. She has also been involved in reporting on conversations she has overheard and right on the phone, passing these conversations on to people she “loves”. She has made assumptions about peoples living situations that were not true and not her decision to make. It’s tough to work in a Town Hall and be exposed to so many people and so many varied situations. She has used her knowledge and position to harm the reputation of people she doesn’t like. Can she be trusted with so much confidential and private information? I am glad we all get to vote for who we want or don’t want in a position. We need new energy in the Town Hall. No one will be able to replace Marion, and I would rather see a trustworthy person with a sincere smile in that position.

  5. “Woah woah, wait a second”!! Did I just read that – Ms. Lampson acknowledged that a portion of her 2013 taxes are overdue. “All I can say is that I am a human being like anyone else, and I fell behind on my taxes during the recent economic downturn, and I have been working very hard to catch up on them since,” — Ms. Lamson said
    the tax collector is aware of her situation and that she has been making regular payments. “I have worked three jobs for the last five years to make up any arrears I may have had in any direction.
    “Woah woah, wait a second” do I remember correctly that sometime back the Chairman of Tisbury’s finance committee had almost a identical problem and was Tisbury’s biggest tax debtor at the time and also happened to have been I believe the first elected official in Tisbury to be formally recalled?
    With all due respect, with Ms. Lampson having no real public experience for this very important position I think we have a clear winner here dont we?

    1. Public experience? LIke Hilary’s experience as a secretary!? – answering the phone & opening mail, are you kidding? Not exactly brain surgery, there. And I don’t think a lifetime of living off other people’s tax dollars (as does Ms. Conklin’s husband, too!) is much of a recommendation. Real world business experience – and management experience – matters, and Barbara has that. I’m sure the people who are supervised by the Town Clerk would prefer an experienced manager with good interpersonal skills like Barb.

      Unlike Ms. Conklin, Barbara grew up on the Vineyard – she knows this place.

      1. chilmarkchick although you have no bone to fight over here I would read the above “Woah woah, wait a second”!! You might just be opening up your friend Barbra to a embarrassing situation if folks drag out more about her. I would just worry about chilmark affairs. You say “Unlike Ms. Conklin, Barbara grew up on the Vineyard – she knows this place”. Well she sure has alot more baggage to be of concern for VH voters. Just sayn.

      2. But didnt Ms. Lampson take off to Los Angeles and work as a production manager in the film industry for about 10 plus years then came back here for whatever reason and fell behind big time on taxpayers $$$$? So what are you saying? She owes taxpayers $$$ Mark & Hillary “WORK” for the Tisbury taxpayers and Mark steps in daily to protect and save your families especially children who have been abused. “Get a Life” chilmarkchick!

  6. I’ve known Barbara since she was a kid. She is a responsible, meticulous person who works not only hard, but smart. She would not only handle the role of Town Clerk well; she would transform it into the best it could possibly be.

    And with due respect to Hillary Conklin and the people she works with at the Town Hall, the position of Town Clerk is an elective one. The decision here is for the voters of Tisbury to make, not the “town hall team.”

  7. I’ve known Barbara for almost 20 years and I’m well aware of her character and abilities I can say without qualification that she would make an exceptional town clerk. Barbara is smart, trustworthy and a quick learner, and she will have no trouble grasping the complexities of this office. She is also the hardest working person I know.
    Barbara is an excellent administrator who truly loves working with people. She has
    designed and managed complex landscaping jobs, supervising an all-male crew
    and overseeing subcontractors while making sure her clients were pleased at
    every step of the way. She’s honest, diplomatic and a good decision-maker. She can see the “big picture” and envision changes that will make things work better. It seems to me that these skills will be extremely valuable in the town clerk’s office.
    Barbara is also warm and gracious. Whenever I am with Barbara, she has a smile and a friendly word for everyone she comes into contact with. And she knows and loves the Vineyard. Spend 10 minutes driving around with her and you’ll understand just what a deep knowledge she has of the island, its history and its residents. The town will be lucky to have Barbara as its clerk.

    1. Seems like 99% of the comments from Barbara’s friends on here most not voters in VH are quite the Left Wing bomb throwers so I am a bit confused when those friends say — “Whenever I am with Barbara, she has a smile and a friendly word for everyone she comes into contact with”. I always heard “You can tell alot about a person by the company she keeps”. I think her friends are loosing votes from her as most VH voters have no clue who she is and her friends comments are not helping her one bit. Will be quite interesting.

      1. I’m not Barbaras friend or Hillary’s. First off, I know Mark and the last day he stepped in to protect any children was when he helped a kid get a drink at a water fountain at a park. Mark comes in after the fact and not during. he’s often not found on any police scene and most often is in plain clothes barely working.

        If I were to vote , and I admit I do not have one in Tisbury this year, I would vote for Barbara. She’s the keeper of the records and has the ability to keep those records and her mouth silent. Hillary has proven to be a vocal, not so silent, keeper of personal information. She’s a pot stirrer and is quite rude to taxi drivers when picking up their licenses and to others asking information.

      2. So it would seem, to you. For the long time residents of Martha’s Vineyard , who are familiar with Barbara’s abilities, we see it somewhat differently. We see a woman who is gifted, not only in serving the people, but a woman who is capable of seeing what may be needed to move forward ……. the next step.

        As someone who has conversed with Barbara as she literally walked the town this last month, introducing herself to the townspeople, ( knocking on doors and handing out pamphlets ) all I can say is, she will make a great Town Clerk. Barbara’s diligence, attention to detail, and intelligence will make her the ideal Town Clerk.
        When YOU say “most of the VH voters ” have no idea who she is, don’t you really mean, YOU don’t know who she is.

        For those who have known Barbara for years, AND for those who just met Barbara, she is the ideal Town Clerk.

        She is great with people, great with detailed tasks, and great with forward looking vision. As one who has had the pleasure of her campaign visit on my doorstep, I say don’t fall for the words of bitter fools.

        Barbara Lampson is our next Town Clerk

  8. The amount of bickering going on here is remarkable – I’ll try not to act the child, and hopefully do better than some of the other commenters. I have to say, the article is uncomfortably slanted towards Conklin – not surprising to find bias in a Times article, but disappointing nevertheless. Ms. Lampson’s ready for this – she has experience with the type of work if not town government specifically; and hell, I’d sooner trust someone without the political experience than with it. The politicking gets in the way far too often with those who tote it as their strength. Taxes happen – she’s not evading them, she’s actively paying them and has been since before this position was even the faintest possibility. Go Lampson!