Four seek county clerk's job in Nov. 2 election

top: Brenda Percy, Dana Brooks<BR>below: Andrea Officer, Vicki Waters

JOHN DAY - Candidates for Grant County Clerk offered up similar goals in an election forum last week at Grant Union High School.

"I'm confident that whoever is chosen for the job is going to do a great job," said Elaine Smith, a Republican Party representative.

Sen. Ted Ferrioli, moderator for the Oct. 7 event, said he was impressed with the caliber of candidates seeking office.

The event was co-sponsored by the county central committees of the Republican and Democratic parties. It drew about 25 people to hear the county clerk candidates - Dana Brooks, Andrea Officer, Brenda Percy and Vicki Waters - as well as the two candidates for Grant County Commissioner, Boyd Britton and Nancy Nickel.

The local positions are on the Nov. 2 ballots, which go in the mail to registered voters late this week. The clerk's race is for a four-year term, with the winner succeeding Kathy McKinnon, who is retiring.

Each of the four hopefuls said it will be important to take steps to preserve the county's older records and upgrade technologically. They also said that given tight county funds, they would seek grants or other funding to help do that.

Percy, who is the deputy clerk, stressed her knowledge of the office, while Brooks, Officer and Waters all cited the importance of a fresh perspective.

Percy emphasized the importance of following processes and procedures "in a meticulous and timely manner."

She also cited the range of tasks - from running elections and managing the county's public records to processing marriage licenses and passport applications - that must be handled by the clerk's office.

"Customer service is a constant in our office," she said.

Her concern is the need to preserve the county's older records.

"We have a lot of documents that are not archived, from 1864-1990," she said.

She said her experience makes her the best choice.

Brooks, who is the director of the Grant County Commission on Children and Families, noted that none of the candidates has ever done the clerk's job, so "every candidate before you tonight will have a learning curve."

She stressed her experience managing budgets, working with state law, and technology background from her years working with Hewlett-Packard.

She said she also understands the technological limits in county government due to budget constraints, noting that she went from her H-P job with state-of-the-art equipment to a post at the Courthouse with "a dot matrix printer."

Around the Courthouse, she is known as "the spreadsheet queen," a skill that would serve the county well in the job, she said.

Younger generations rely on new technology and the county will need to upgrade to meet the demands of the future, she said.

Officer, who is secretary and office specialist at Seneca School, also stressed her experience with record-keeping, as well as effective communication skills. She said it's important to have positive working relationships with other department heads, the public and business community.

"Brenda and I, working as a team, would be the best of both worlds," she said.

Officer said the clerk's office will need to digitize its records, while keeping within the budget. She stressed her experience in data processing, confidential reporting and working with records in her current job.

She also cited experience with the Ford Family Leadership program as invaluable preparation for such a post, and her ability to work in partnership with other groups.

She said she wants the clerk's office to be known as the most efficient, well run and cohesive office in the state.

Waters, who is the assistant librarian at the Grant County Library, touted her 19 years of employment with the county and said she is experienced with budgets, grant-writing and computers.

"I am a people person, who values integrity," she said.

She also stated a goal of updating the office's record-keeping, using surrounding counties as examples. She would like to obtain grants to put old deeds and historical records on computer.

She said automation is key to good service, allowing the office to help more people, faster.

Asked about their leadership styles, Waters said she works as "a team player" to listen to people, answer questions and come up with solutions.

Percy also stressed the need for teamwork, to improve customer service and accomplish goals for the office, particularly preserving the older records.

Officer said she favors collaborative leadership. It's important to listen, but also to be able to take that information and be able to make a decision, she said.

Brooks said she leads through a strong work ethic and by being a professional, "being prepared for what I need to do."

Brooks also said that while grounded by the rules and statutes, "I bring humor to work every day."

Asked what they expect to be the biggest challenge of the job, Percy and Officer both cited getting up to speed on election law. Brooks and Waters cited learning the Oregon laws and rules that govern the office would be the most formidable task.

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