Bragg: I'll miss the people, not the politics

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Laura Bragg, with her husband, Tony. (Lebanon Voice/Harrison Thorp photo)

LEBANON - When longtime Lebanon Town Clerk Laura Bragg ends her final day of work on Tuesday she admits there may be some waterworks.

"It's going to be hard on me Tuesday. I think I'll be emotional," she said as she sat beside her husband, Tony, on Wednesday inside their Baker's Grant Road home.

Bragg began as town clerk in 2000, and while her duties changed little over the years, the numbers of people for whom those duties were performed grew exponentially as the town's population dramatically increased.

"I've loved working for the people of Lebanon. I mean I grew up here, spent my whole life here," she said. "I'll see people who say 'I used to baby sit you' and then later I'll see people who say 'I used to baby sit for you (for your kids).'"

The part of the job she won't miss is the politics.

"I like doing my job and serving the residents, but the political part, I won't miss," she said. "It's hard to live in your town and work in your town, because it's a political arena and it's a small town."

Still, she said, even politically, there have been some lighter times.

Like when she first started the job, when a particular selectman was "so tight, he wouldn't want to spend a penny," she said.

Bragg said it got to the point where she'd stride into the selectmen's office and preface any request with, "Now I only need two," letting the overly frugal selectman know upfront she didn't necessarily need him to get what she wanted.

It got to be a standing joke, she said.

Asked if she could recall any other comical tales from her tenure, she added.

"One thing people hate the most is paying their dog licenses. I don't know why. I mean they'll say how come dogs have to be licensed and not cats. It just drives people crazy. Well, once this gentleman came in and he was so mad and frustrated about having to pay it, but he had come in to pay it so we let him have his say.

"So we got him the license and he left, but then we realized he hadn't paid. So we said do we really want to call him back in, so we just paid it ourselves."

While Bragg says she'll miss serving the people of Lebanon, she hopes to better serve the town when she no longer works for it, perhaps in a political run down the road.

"When I retire I've always said I would love to run for selectman," she said, "or maybe the school board or budget committee (which she served on long ago at age 18)."

But she's not retiring just yet, so all those candidates thinking about running this year can relax.

Bragg has a brand new job waiting for her that she'll start soon after her final day in Lebanon next Tuesday.

She didn't want to say where the job was but did say it was in government.

And speaking of government, Bragg said Lebanon is badly in need of a new one.

"We absolutely need a town manager; I've always felt that," she said. "They're educated in running a town, they can micromanage things better and maybe get some grants. We need it badly.

"I mean these guys run for office, and what do you need to be a selectman. You have to be a resident, that's it. I'm not saying anything bad about them, but no one knows what they're getting themselves into."

As far as advice for selectmen, she has one word: communication.

"I don't know why there is such a barrier, not just with the public, but with employees, with department heads."

As an example, Bragg said, for instance, a road might be closed for some project but folks at Town Offices wouldn't be aware of it.

"Someone will call and say I can't get down that road, then you spend time finding what's going on and waste time (when it should have been communicated)," she said, adding "No matter what happens in this town, they call Town Hall and think we should know, and when we don't know, that's bad."

The only other advice she urged was "have an open mind."

"People doing the work sometimes know more - no offense to bosses - but people in the trenches sometimes know more, and people should listen to them."

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