Cascade County elections administration: what happens next?

Jim Larson, Rae Grulkowski, Joe Briggs
Posted at 6:18 PM, Dec 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-13 20:18:25-05

On Tuesday the Cascade County Commission voted 2-1 to strip elections administration from the Clerk & Recorders office.

Commissioners Joe Briggs and Jim Larson voted in favor of the proposal, and Commissioner Rae Grulkowski voted against it.

The vote came after more than five hours of testimony and public opinion. Scores of people stood in line to voice their opinion, and now that the commissioners have voted - what happens next?

Briggs said the commission will appoint an interim election official until a permanent one can be hired.

Briggs said, “I just got off the phone with my HR (human resources) director. The first thing is in the morning, he needs to visit with the elections people to assess whether we have a an issue with some of those people not wanting to stay. Hopefully, they will stay under new management.”

The commission scheduled a meeting for Friday, December 15, 2023, to discuss an interim appointment. The public meeting begins at 11 a.m., and people can also attend virtually by clicking here.

Briggs said, "We need to put a job description out quickly, get that out in the street. But as I pointed out, I mean, we are constrained legally on how we do things. It's not like a business where you could set up basically who the replacements are going to be before you take an action. We do still have in the county some people who used to work in the elections department, whether they have any desire to step in in an interim role or not, I don't know. So we have some scrambling to do."

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But not everyone on the commission is on the same page.

Grulkowski voted against the resolution on Tuesday, and doesn’t believe the transition can be seamless: We have been searching for a CFO for a year and we certainly need that position. We haven't found that. I don't know how this is going to come together. I think the public needs to know. The commissioners have not met on this issue. As far as I'm concerned, we're not starting on page one. We're still looking at the cover. And that's not work. That's just not safe."

After Tuesday’s decision - it’s clear that there are major divisions within the Cascade County Commissioner’s office, but it’s unclear how they can be resolved.

Grulkowski said, "We've got to start by conversations but I meet closed doors every time I try to have these conversations. And the people didn't elect us just to take the easy way out. It's hard work. You got to roll your sleeves up. You got to deal with the personalities you don't like, and you got to find the answers at the source and then be ready to stay with it until you can resolve it."

The first scheduled election in Cascade County in 2024 will take place May 7th; candidate filing begins in January.