A long family history of public service was all the motivation Summit County Clerk & Recorder Kathleen Neel needed when deciding earlier this month whether or not to seek re-election.
Neel, 56, a native of the town of Breckenridge, is running as a Republican. Not only was she raised locally, but her parents also held local office. Her father, Jerry Ahern, served as Summit County Assessor, while her mother, Rosemary Ahern, was a past Summit County Clerk & Recorder.
“I guess you can say I’m just following in the family footsteps,” Neel said.
Neel graduated from Summit High School before attending Fort Lewis College in Durango where she studied accounting. This would be her second of a possible three terms if Neel is elected in November.
But Neel is far more seasoned than a one-term clerk & recorder might suggest. She’s been with the office since 1995 and was appointed chief deputy clerk & recorder in 1997. In 2009, following the resignation of Cheri Brunvand, Neel was appointed by the Summit County Commission to the clerk & recorder’s post. She earned her first full term in 2010.
“One of things I’ve always found interesting about working in the clerk & recorder’s office is we have contact with about every single resident in the county,” Neel said. “We manage local elections, the motor vehicles department, recording, vital statistics and marriage licenses, so at some point you’re going to have to come visit this office.”
Considering the clerk & recorder’s office assists residents with such a wide range of services, Neel said the most important aspect of her job going into her second election is maintaining the office’s high level of customer service — even if the request is not something her office usually handles.
Last December a resident called the clerk & recorder’s office inquiring where he could buy a Christmas tree since the local City Market was sold out, Neel said. The clerk’s office located a tree for the man.
“We always encourage anyone to call the office if they have questions of any kind,” Neel said. “And since so many people have to come here anyway, it’s always been my goal to make the clerk & recorder’s office a place people want to come to.”