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Commission wants to appoint County Recorder, Clerk of Court

By Staff | Oct 22, 2009

The Pierce County Recorder and clerk of court positions are currently elected offices, but that may change in the future.

The county commission recently adopted a resolution to appoint the two positions, but must conduct a public hearing before passing a final resolution.

That hearing has been set for Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 1:30 p.m. at the county courthouse.

David Migler, District Five commissioner, said the thought process behind the resolution is to insure qualified persons remain in those positions, bring more accountability and save the county some election expense. Migler added a citizens’ advisory committee several years back also recommended appointing county positions.

A year ago the commission passed a resolution to appoint the supervisor who will oversee the combined auditor-treasurer’s office, which will go into effect in 2011. That decision came several months following a public hearing in which a handful of residents voiced their desire to keep the position elected.

The county recorder and clerk of court positions have always been elected and Migler acknowledged voters have done a good job in selecting quality candidates to fill the position.

So then why does the commission want to take that decision out of voters’ hands?

That’s a question some commissioners are still grappling with, Migler adds.

He’s among those who see far more benefits to appointing the offices. “It’s not about controlling those offices, but just keeping things consistent,’ Migler said. “We already appoint the tax director and veterans’ officers and that’s worked out good.”

Carla Marks, clerk of court, says she’s OK with changing her office from an elected to an appointed position, but does have some questions she would like answered. Among them just how long would her position be appointed for. Would it be just a one-year appointment or longer? Also, what type of oversight the commission would have on the office?

Lori Miron, county recorder, generally supports changing her office to an appointed position, but like Marks, has some questions.

“I would like to learn more of what the plan is (as far as the commission’s oversight of the offices),’ she said.

She knows that some question the commission’s decision and deciding to take the decision out of voters’ hands.

Miron was in a contested election for her seat a year ago, and admits the costs to run for the office is expensive. Costs that would not longer be there if her position is appointed.

Richard Vetsch, District Three commissioner, said at one time he favored keeping the offices elected, but has since changed his mind. ” I think this is the way to go to keep qualified people in those offices,’ he said. “It’s a not decision so we can (micromanage) those offices.”

Vetsch added he would prefer to see those positions appointed for up to four years at a time.

Many counties in the state have most of their county government offices appointed by an elected commission. Pierce County is just one of a handful of counties where the clerk of court and county recorder positions remain elected.

Under the current arrangement, elected positions can only be removed by action from the Governor while offices that are appointed are under the control of the commission. And that’s another benefit to making the change, enabling a change to be made swiftly, if needed.

Although the commission has adopted a resolution, the public still has the opportunity to add its input before a final decision is made.

And that decision would have to be made before the end of the year.

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