Teller Commissioners Appoint New County Clerk

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Brown Wins Pick Among Three Candidates

by Rick Langenberg:

 

 

 

After weeks of speculation, the Teller County commissioner last week promoted Acting Clerk and Recorder Krystal Brown to the permanent slot for the next two years.

She will man the entire clerk and recorder’s operations, oversee elections, head a staff of eight and manage two offices, until at least Jan. 2015. And with this designation, allowing Brown to fulfill the term of former Clerk JJ Jamison, Brown will gain a driver’s seat status if she decides to run for the four-year term in Nov. 2014.

Brown, a nine-year employee of the agency and the second-in-command for the last two years, gained the seat following competition among three contenders for the position, including Assessor Betty Clark-Wine.

In a somewhat nonchalant style that differed from their previous comments pertaining to Jamison, who stepped down in late January following much criticism from county leaders, the commissioners conceded that they faced a tough choice. “We had three very different candidates,” said Commission Chairman Dave Paul, who described the hiring process as quite challenging. Besides Clark-Wine, who had offered to serve as both the assessor and the clerk and recorder to assist the county, the competition slate also included Dean Fouquet. Fouquet, who lives off Teller One in the unincorporated section of the county, also brought a variety of professional skills to the table, according to his resume.

But ever since Jamison resigned, Brown was considered the definite front-runner due to her involvement with the clerk and recorder’s office and the role she took in helping to resurrect the county’s elections plight. Teller was under heavy scrutiny from Secretary of State Scott Gessler and was forced to hire an expert consultant to manage its general election last November. Both Brown and Stephanie Fisher won the annual county’s leadership awards for their duties in helping to assure Teller had a smooth presidential election. Brown was then selected as the acting clerk, as Jamison faced a potential recall campaign and decided to call it quits.

Nevertheless, her appointment for the permanent spot wasn’t a done deal, as the position was extensively advertised on the county’s website. “We had three very good candidates,” said Commission Vice-Chairman Norm Steen, who stated that he looked for person who had the best experience and overall vision for the office. “It was a tough decision.”

That said, Steen believes that Teller has a bright future with Brown as its permanent clerk. In a subsequent interview following her appointment, Brown stated that she wants to pursue the same course as what has been followed for the last few months. “We want to stay under the radar and just do our job,” said Brown, the wife of Cripple Creek Mayor Bruce Brown. The two have four children and have been married for 21 years. The new clerk described the appointment as a big “sigh of relief. We have been on such a roller coaster ride,” she added in describing the previous controversies surrounding the clerk and recorder situation.

Brown believes the office has made solid strides since the end of 2012. Moreover, Brown doesn’t anticipate any more controversies, and is quite confident that the county is now ahead of the curve in dealing with elections. The next election her office will oversee involves the municipal and special district elections in the fall of 2013, which will be handled through a complete mail-in ballot format.

As a special asset, she said she has developed a great working relationship with elections consultant Al Davidson, who was hired for several months by the commissioners last summer at the recommendation of Gessler. Davidson, who now works for the state, praised both Brown and Fisher in his final evaluation of the future of Teller elections.

In addition, Brown said she has worked in all facets of the clerk and recorder’s office. “I have pretty much done it all,” said the clerk.

Civil Unions and Election Changes

However, several big issues still confront the Teller clerk and recorders’ office. Civil union licenses, which are soon available for gay and lesbian couples, will become official on May 1. A pro-civil unions law, which opens the door for gay and lesbian couples to obtain licenses that give them more legal protections, was adopted by the state legislature this year. This issue has been somewhat controversial due to the fact that many people in Colorado still view marriage as a union between a man and a woman. A special session on this issue last summer couldn’t get anything resolved, but the tide turned following last November’s election when Democratic lawmakers gained control of both the state House and Senate.

Brown stated that both the Cripple Creek and Woodland Park offices will be equipped to process the paperwork for these licenses, which are similar in fees to marriage licenses.

In addition, the office must prepare itself for a political brouhaha when it comes to future election proceedings. A new proposed measure, heavily objected by many clerk and recorders in larger counties, would open the door for people to register to vote on elections day. This plan was heavily criticized last week by Paul, who estimated this could cost certain large counties, such as El Paso, an additional $1 million. Also, a big push is underway for a complete mail-in ballot system for the next general election.

Brown stated her office is well poised to handle these potential changes. As for her long-term future with the clerk’s office, Brown said she does plan to seek the four-year clerk and recorder seat in 2014. “I am pretty confident I will run for the seat,” said Brown.

However, if history repeats itself, she could face some opposition. The Teller clerk and recorder position surprisingly has attracted a competitive slate during the last two county elections.