During his eight years in office, Scott Weber has had a complicated relationship with the job of Clark County clerk. Despite this, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends a vote to retain the Republican in the Nov. 6 election.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian encourages voters to become familiar with the candidates before casting an informed ballot.
In the case of county clerk, that likely will include an examination of the job itself, which is a low-profile elected position but an important one for a well-run county. As the Clark County website explains: “The county clerk serves and supports the Superior Court by receiving and processing court documents, attending and assisting in all court proceedings, maintaining the court’s files, and entering its orders, judgments and decrees.”
In other words, the office is tasked with processing the paperwork and computer files from court proceedings, a behind-the-scenes role that involves an annual budget of about $3.6 million and a staff of about 45 employees. A well-functioning court system is reliant upon a well-organized clerk’s office — and that directly impacts thousands of county residents each year.
In 2010, as a political novice, Weber ran for the office with the platform of abolishing it. For that election, he wrote in the voters’ pamphlet: “We need to manage our public money better. One way to do that is to eliminate elected offices that have very limited functions. … If elected I will work to eliminate the office which will save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. While I work to phase the office out, I will do everything I can to save taxpayer money.”
Now Weber has a different view of the job, which has an annual salary of $114,509. He has continued progress toward a paperless office, and he is preparing the department for a move to a new computer system. “I’m very proud of what the clerk’s office has done,” he said during an interview with the editorial board. “My biggest thing is what we do for our customers and how we treat our customers.”
Challenger Barbara Melton, a Democrat, takes issue with some of the work the clerk’s office has done under Weber’s watch. Melton has worked in the county prosecutor’s office for 17 years and has been a union shop steward for employees in the clerk’s office for 12 years. She says morale among employees is low and that many have told her, “I hate coming to work in the morning.” She adds, “They don’t feel comfortable asking each other for help.”
Melton also has made a campaign issue out of a proposal to close the department’s facilitator’s office, which helps customers with paperwork required by the court. Faced with possible budget cuts, Weber submitted a proposal eliminating the department, which serves about 300 people a month; he now believes those cuts will be avoided when the county budget is finalized.
Melton is long on reasons why changes should be made in the clerk’s office, but she is short on solutions. In a meeting with the editorial board, she did not have recommendations for other cuts that could preserve the facilitator’s office, and she did not know the department’s overall budget.
We share Melton’s concerns about the clerk’s office, but we believe Weber is the best person to address the issues. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that Scott Weber be retained as Clark County clerk.