In August, two races will appear on the primary ballot for Chelan County. Those races are county Superior Court clerk and county commissioner for District 2.
Why is it important to vote in those races? Both the clerk and commissioner carry out responsibilities vital to the operation of Chelan County.
Retiring Clerk Kim Morrison and Commissioner Bob Bugert provided insight into the day-to-day operation of their roles, as well as advice for voters as they prepare to cast their ballots in August.
The Chelan County Superior Clerk is the chief financial and administrative officer for the Superior Court of Chelan County. The clerk’s office handles many different administrative tasks, including but not limited to keeping a record of all trials and judgments of the court, issuing jury summons and passports, storing court documents and helping the public through the process of filing documents. The clerk’s office deals with timely issues such as arrest warrants, protection orders and child support collection, which necessitates that the office work in an efficient manner.
Morrison has served as the county Superior Court clerk for the past 12 years and worked for Chelan County in various roles for 21 years before being elected. Morrison advised that a good candidate for clerk should have a background in administration, employee management and budgeting.
The Chelan County Superior Clerk’s office has 19 employees. While employees do many of the same tasks every day, Morrison explained that employees deal with different situations every day. Every individual who files documents with the clerk has a unique situation. The clerk is responsible for “Understanding what they’re asking and being able to help them achieve what they’re here for without giving legal advice.”
The clerk must have the ability to read, understand and apply the law, as laws are always changing. Morrison emphasized the many diverse situations the clerk works to find a solution to, explaining that it is important the clerk have “the ability to provide really good public service. We deal with so many different people from so many facets of life.”
The clerk also helps to settle cases involving challenging documents.
County commissioners are responsible for the overall governance of Chelan County. The District 2 seat, which represents central Wenatchee, Cashmere and Leavenworth areas, is contested this election cycle.
Incumbent Bob Bugert explained that the biggest responsibility of the Board of Commissioners is to set the annual county budget, but commissioners make day-to-day decisions for Chelan County throughout the year.
Bugert emphasized the importance of a good budget, saying, “You set your priorities by putting your money where you think it is most important.” The commissioners spend their time in weekly meetings with the heads of county departments and boards, serving on boards and attending community meetings. Bugert recommends that candidates for commissioner have a good understanding of the role of the commissioner, know key issues in the community and have solutions for those issues.
“There is a process, a tempo, a philosophy within civic service,” said Bugert, who noted that prior experience in the public sphere can be helpful for a new commissioner.
Chelan County is growing quickly, and the commissioners are responsible for planning for future growth.
“There are going to be some tough decisions coming up," he said.
- Updating the jail
- Addressing the increasing demand for affordable housing
- Handling the growing fentanyl abuse in Chelan County
The next District 2 commissioner will be involved in making those important decisions.
“That individual needs to have the ability to process that kind of information and to come up with reasoned and reasonable solutions," Bugert said. "And to work with others, you really need to work with others.”
Ballots for the primary election are due Aug. 3. Go vote!
Kody Richards is a summer intern at the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. A 2021 Wenatchee High School grad, she is currently a sophomore at Hillsdale College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.