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Little feedback

By Staff | Nov 6, 2009

Just two residents attended a scheduled public hearing regarding the Pierce County commission’s plan to change the County Recorder and Clerk of Court positions from elected to appointed.

That low turnout on Nov. 3 in the Pierce County District court room made for a brief hearing and gave a strong indication to the commission that residents are OK with the change.

Formal passage of a resolution is expected to come at a meeting later this month. Commissioners favor appointing the positions every four years, however, that would have to be drafted into the resolution.

The proposed plan enables the immediate replacement in the event of a vacancy and allows the board to evaluate the qualifications, education and training of future applicants and to hire an available applicant.

If the resolution is passed, Pierce County would join a majority of counties across the state that already have turned those offices into appointed positions.

David Migler, District Five commissioner, said making the change would ensure qualified persons remain in those positions. Under the current system, it’s possible someone could be voted into the office with no experience, requiring training at a cost to the county.

Fortunately, that hasn’t been a problem, and County Recorder Lori Miron and Carla Marks, Clerk of Court, have quite a bit of experience.

At the hearing, commissioners said they received very little feedback from residents regarding the resolution to change offices from elected to appointed.

Duane Johnston, Fourth District commissioner, said he spoke to just two residents and both favored the change.

However, there was one who appeared before the commission opposed to it.

Sharon Munyer, former commissioner, asked why the change was necessary. She also wondered why the commission wants to take the decision out of the voters’ hands.

Migler stressed the motives were to keep qualified people in the offices. He pointed out there would be limited savings with the change, so that wasn’t behind the decision.

And as far as taking the selection process out of voters’ hands, residents still vote for commissioners as well as the sheriff and states’ attorney.

Migler pointed out that Miron actually was appointed to the job by the commission after then-recorder Denise Pieterick resigned. Eventually, Miron had to run for the office in last year’s general election, defeating challenger Diane Schall-Dodd.

Mike Christenson, Second District commissioner, said he favors keeping the offices elected, but respects the views of his fellow commissioners to make a change.

Richard Vetsch, Third District commissioner, said the decision to appoint provides more positives than drawbacks.

Aimee Lehman said she sees good points for leaving the offices elected as well as having them appointed.

Her concern is to make sure residents have qualified people in those offices. Lehman, who owns a real estate company, works closely with the county recorder in accessing land records. It’s important to have a qualified person in that office, and the county has one in Miron, she said.

Both Miron and Marks support the change, and were encouraged to hear the commission has no intention to tightly supervise those offices.

Other offices appointed

The county already appoints the tax assessor and veteran’s service officer and eventually will appoint a person to head the auditor-treasurer office, which will be combined, beginning in 2011.

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