Candidates lay out ideas for elections, access to public records in race to lead the Summit County Clerk & Recorder’s Office
As voters prepare to replace term-limited Kathleen Neel as the leader of the Summit County Clerk & Recorder’s Office, Democratic Party candidate Stacey Nell and unaffiliated candidate Kay Robinson shared information about their campaigns at Summit Daily News’ election forum last week.
Stacy Nell has worked since 2017 as the chief deputy clerk and recorder and has obtained certifications from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Election Officials to inform her role as the clerk and recorder, according to past reporting.
Kay Robinson has worked for the Clerk and Recorder’s Office as a deputy clerk in the motor vehicles department for the last eight years. She has supervised elections in Silverthorne and has been in charge of multiple certifications that run through the office.
Both candidates responded to questions posed by Summit Daily News editor Andrew Maciejewski in front of a live audience on Thursday, Oct. 13.
Access to public records
Since the office organizes and records important documents for the community, both candidates were asked to share ways in which they would promote public access in the office.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nell said she reached out to a vendor to make public records requests more accessible while folks were isolating at home. That platform launched in the summer of 2020, and another new software system will launch in 2023.
Nell is the project manager for the new system, which “interlinks” the clerk, assessor and treasurer’s office. It will be another online platform that will host shared information and documents between the three offices, Nell said.
Robinson used the example of DD-214 forms to stress how important it is for the public to file records.
A DD-214 is a form that military veterans receive as proof that they have served, and it is necessary to receive military benefits. The forms are important because of the hardships that members of the armed services may experience, Robinson added.
“There have been family members not being able to pull up their DD214s because they’ve never been recorded,” Robinson said. “I feel that it’s important to let the community know that recording documents such as those — that are privately recorded — need to be done.”
Candidates were also asked to analyze Summit County’s strategy for elections and propose improvements to the system.
Robinson said the office would benefit from a better connection with the community. Therefore, Robinson said more customer service training would help the office improve their services.
“If it’s an election, or motor vehicles, or recording, or birth certificates, or death certificates, or marriage certificates, I think it’s important for our staff to remember that we are community based,” Robinson said.
Nell said he most effective way to increase voter registration and election involvement is to hire a full-time election staff member onto the clerk office team. She added that a full-time election staff member would improve elections, create transparency with the community and help staff with overall operations.
Room for improvement
When asked to explain something the office does well currently, Nell said she was proud of the office’s commitment to following rules.
“Other candidates talk about how their efforts, and things like that, that land them in the headlines,” Nell said. “We like to stay out of the headlines as clerks.”
In response to a follow up question asking both candidates to share their ideas on room for improvement, Nell said the office could stand to revamp their voter outreach.
Nell said the office could hold more in-person conversations with employers like Vail Resorts. She also mentioned that the seasonal aspect of Summit County affects voter registration, so she said the office could do a better job on registering new members of the community to vote.
While Robinson said accountability and integrity are currently strong points of the system, she believes the office could be more transparent.
“I feel like there’s a little secrecy, sometimes, but not on purpose,” Robinson said. “I feel like we need to have more of an open door when it comes to that.”
Robinson suggested more community involvement and outreach to mend that concern.
Mail-in ballots should start to arrive at voter’s doorsteps the week of Oct. 17. The first day of early voting begins on Monday, Oct. 24.
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