Hamden Town Clerk reflects on 26 years in local government

Olivia Kettell

A new town clerk will take office in Hamden after former Town Clerk Vera Morrison finished serving her thirteenth term, amounting to 26 years serving Hamden this year.

Karimah Mickens was elected to replace Morrison in the Hamden municipal elections on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Morrison says she never expected how long she would spend in the position when she was first elected.

“I suspected that it would be a one-term, two-term, kind of thing, never expecting that I’d still be here 26 years later,” Morrison said. “It’s a very fulfilling responsibility.”

Former Hamden Town Clerk Vera Morrison has served 13 terms.

In the state of Connecticut, the official purpose of the town clerk is to manage the public records of the respective town, but Morrison has found unique ways to engage with Hamden residents through her position.

“We’re there when people buy their first house, we’re here when they have their first baby, we’re here when they get married,” Morrison said.

Morrison says things like marriage are much more than official paperwork. In the past, Morrison organized “Valentine’s Day weddings,” where she would provide free marriage certificates and host services and celebrations for couples wed on Valentine’s Day.

“Everything we do is personal here,” Morrison said. “We deal with thousands and thousands of documents, and yet I’ve tried to humanize the office, and I feel that there’s a backstory with each piece of paper that we handle. I would do crazy initiatives to bring humanity to all this paperwork.”

Morrison creates these kinds of connections to enable residents to feel less unsure about the processes of local government.

“I’ve made so many wonderful friends,” Morrison said. “I felt that I was the person that would help people maneuver the brick wall of government.”

Hamden town clerk elect Mickens says she looks forward to learning more about the realities of the town clerk position after Morrison’s 26 years of service.

“[I’m] looking forward to when we’ll be able to connect and start transitioning… and getting to engage with our residents,” Mickens said.

Mickens hopes for a good transition plan to keep the office running smoothly and is interested in learning more about Morrison’s “wealth of knowledge” when it comes to the town clerk position.

“I really believe that a good transition plan is so critical just to make sure that we keep the town afloat. I know she’s done great work and she’s a very professional and well-regarded person,” Mickens said.

As town clerk, Mickens looks to continue engaging with Hamden residents in a similar way.

“I’ve served in multiple roles throughout my career,” Mickens said. “What I’m hoping when I show up as town clerk, is I’m bringing all that with me, so I’ll definitely be looking for creative ways to engage the community.”

Vera Morrison’s more than two decades of expertise leave much for Karimah Mickens to learn from.

“It’s been a long road,” Morrison said. “I’m going to miss it.”