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The Los Alamos County Clerk race has drawn very little attention. But it should.
In addition to keeping and providing records, the county clerk is responsible for ensuring fair elections and fair initiative, referendum and recall petition processes. The county clerk, an elected position, is responsible to the New Mexico Secretary of State, not to the county council.
As such, the county clerk must be fair and independent of the Council.
Sharon Stover, currently chair of the county council, showed a strong council bias in leading a 2009 ruling (that took a judicial matter into their own hands) against a certified citizen petition, citing logrolling (later refuted by the Attorney General’s office).
Now Chair Stover has led the council in ruling that the four Charter amendment ballot questions, a bundling of 15 clarification ordinances and six substantive change ordinances, were not logrolling, despite the request that the six substantive change ordinances be separated out to be voted upon separately. Councilor Ron Selvage actually explored the proposal to separate thesix substantive changes, but Chair Stover dismissed it, citing lack of time.
Political bias in the petitioning process is unfair and has no place in the clerk’s office.
There is also a concern about independence and neutrality when a councilor moves directly to county clerk from the county council. There is increased concern if Sharon Stover and her husband Steven Girrens are simultaneously elected county clerk and county councilor.
Lack of independence from the council (or even the appearance thereof) has no place in the clerk’s office.
Councilor Stover has shown a tremendous amount of energy and dedication to her work on behalf of the county. No doubt she would bring that energy and dedication to the job of county clerk. However, this unfair political bias and lack of independence from the council is of concern.