Despite being derided as a “teenybopper” by her predecessor, Grafton County Treasurer Vanessa Sievers ’10 has transitioned smoothly into her new role since taking office on Jan. 7, according to local elected officials.
Carol Elliott, the previous treasurer and Sievers’ opponent in the November election, had said in November that Sievers would be incapable of performing the duties of her new office.
As treasurer, Sievers manages county finances and investments, but does not make budgetary policy decisions, according to Grafton County Register of Deeds Bill Sharp.
“Those numbers aren’t going anywhere,” Sharp said.
Sharp, along with Upper Valley Democrats Chair John Chamberlain, initially suggested that Sievers run for treasurer.
Sievers’ immediate responsibilities include reinvesting $11 million that Elliott had temporarily set aside during the transition between treasurers.
Sievers said she plans to give all local banks a chance to bid on the investment opportunity and will invest the money with whichever bank makes the best offer.
Sievers has not had any major difficulties thus far, according to County Executive Julie Clough, who oversees the activities of all county departments. Sievers, however, has no direct supervisor.
“So far, so good,” Clough said.
Sievers is adjusting well to her new responsibilities, Sharp said.
“She has my moral support and pumpkin pie down here from the Deeds’s kitchen,” Sharp said.
Sievers said she was surprised by the amount of encouragement she has received from county officials and administrators in light of Elliott’s criticism.
“There has been no animosity, no problems at all,” she said.
Grafton County officials collectively decided to support and guide Sievers, Sharp said.
“She’s getting advice from all the players,” Sharp said. “There is no way that anyone who is connected is going to allow Vanessa to make any major misstep.”
Sievers’ presence is valuable, even though she lacks policy-making authority in her current position, Sharp said.
“The college kids have a dog in the fight,” he said.
Sievers, who relied heavily on Facebook.com for her campaign, said she has been inundated with “friend requests” and e-mails as students across the country respond to her election.
“People from other colleges sent e-mails saying, ‘Wow, I had this problem in my community and never really thought of running [for office] to address it, but now I might in the next election cycle,'” she said.
Although Sharp said the county government does not have any specific plans to include more students in its operations, he said doing so would be a “great idea.”
“It’s your future, this is your country and it’s going to be built firsthand at the local level,” he said.
Student advocacy and issue groups on campus, like those that focus on the environment or poverty in the Upper Valley, should work together to effect legislative change, Sievers said.
“There is a wide range of interest groups that could take it to the next level and do something legislatively,” Sievers said. “They do a lot of good, but they could do more.”
Elliott did not respond to requests for comment by press time.