The Wilton Democratic Town Committee (DTC) will honor Carole Young-Kleinfeld, Wilton’s Democratic registrar of voters, with the Outstanding Democrat Award during its annual breakfast on Saturday, April 2.

Young-Kleinfeld said she was “very surprised” when she received a call from DTC Chair Deborah McFadden and fellow Democrat John Kalamarides about the award.

“They said they appreciate the fact that I have worked in various capacities to help the town in different ways,” she said, including her roles as a registrar of voters, deputy registrar, Area 9 Cable Council representative, and her various activities with the Wilton League of Women Voters — “but they didn’t really go into a lot of detail, so I was shocked, but honored.”

After moving to Wilton with her family in late 1997, Young-Kleinfeld joined the Wilton League of Women Voters.

“Before I moved to Wilton, I had never lived in a town that had a League of Women Voters, so that was one of the first things I did when I moved to Wilton,” she said.

Young-Kleinfeld said her experience in the league has made her a better registrar.

“One of the important things that I think for any registrar — and I bet my counterpart, Tina Gardner, would say the same thing — is that what you learn being a member of the League of Women Voters is very applicable to being a registrar of voters because the league is a totally nonpartisan organization,” she said.

“The league focuses on issues and public policy issues and especially activities that encourage people to register to vote and participate in their democracy, so that was really good training for me.”

Although she and her fellow registrar of voters have different political beliefs, said Young-Kleinfeld, “we run our office and focus on getting the job done for the benefits of all the voters in Wilton.”

“I think that my counterpart and I do our very best to run elections that are smooth-running and that really take the interests of Wilton voters to heart and put them first,” she said.

Over the years, Young-Kleinfeld said, “we’ve had very few snafus in our elections, and I think that’s also because the town supports our efforts.”

“Elections require resources — they require equipment; they require that we be able to pay people to work and pay people to receive the required training that you need to run a smooth election,” she said, “so I really do appreciate the town of Wilton supporting our department in that regard.”

Background


Young-Kleinfeld was elected to be Wilton’s Democratic registrar in 2008. Before that, she served as former Registrar Peggy Reeves’ deputy for about four years.

She also worked as an election official at the polls and with the League of Women Voters in voter registration drives.

“I knew it was an area I was interested in,” said Young-Kleinfeld, who had no prior background in election law or election administration.

“I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and political science and a master’s degree in social work,” she said, “and most of my post-graduate employment has been in health administration, so it was a different career area.”

For the past eight years, Young-Kleinfeld has, with her Republican counterpart, administered all elections for Wilton, hired and supervised elections officials, maintained Wilton’s registration database, led workshops for statewide registrars and monitored elections legislation.

Young-Kleinfeld is one of four statewide election moderator trainers who travel to different parts of the state and hold group training classes on what being an election moderator involves.

She is also vice chair of the Connecticut Registrars Certification Committee, which has developed the first statewide certification program for registrars of voters in consultation with the secretary of the state.

“I’ve been one of four registrars who, for the last two years, have worked on a statewide committee to develop a training program — really, a certification program — for registrars of voters throughout Connecticut,” said Young-Kleinfeld.

“I was selected as one of the four by the secretary of the state to work on that certification program and we launched it earlier this year. We have eight classes that the UConn School of Business in Stamford is actually organizing and running for us.”

Before this certification program, registrars have had to rely on mentoring by their predecessors, said Young-Kleinfeld, who is “really grateful” to have had a “great mentor” like Reeves to help her understand how the registrars of voters office and elections work.

“Not all registrars have that, and that’s why I thought that the certification program was so important to get off the ground,” she said.

Annual lunch


The annual DTC breakfast will take place from 9 to 11, at Trackside Teen Center, and features Dr. Gary Rose, professor and chair of Sacred Heart University’s government, politics and global studies department, as keynote speaker.

At the lunch, Young-Kleinfeld said, she is looking forward to seeing “a lot of friends and acquaintances,” including Lifetime Achievement recipient Dick Dubow.

“I have a lot of respect for Dick Dubow and so much of the work he’s done for the town over the years, so I’m so happy that he’s also being honored because he has, for years and years, been a very important part of this town,” she said.

“I can’t hold a candle to the years of work that he’s contributed to the town, so I’m really happy to be sharing the morning with him.”

The event is open to the public with early bird tickets at $30 ($40 at the door) for adults, and $5 for all those 18 years or younger.

Advance payment may be made at wiltondems.org or by sending a check payable to the Wilton DTC, to Wilton DTC, P.O. Box 103, Wilton, CT 06897.