Tag Archives: county clerk

Where does ideology fit in this office?

I get a kick out of looking at political campaign signs … and Lord knows we’ve got a lot of them sprouting up all over Amarillo, Texas, as our state’s primary election is less than a month away.

One such sign caught my eye this morning and it brings to mind a question I’ve pondered for nearly as long as I’ve lived in Texas; that’s nearly 34 years.

Susan Allen is running for Randall County clerk. The current county clerk, Renee Calhoun, isn’t seeking re-election. I don’t know Allen, but I am struck by a message on her sign, which reads “A Conservative Choice.”

Hmmm. So, the long-pondered question is this: Why do we elect some of these statutory offices on partisan ballots?

Moreover, when does political ideology matter when we’re pondering for whom to vote for an office such as county clerk?

I’m not sure how a “conservative” county clerk is more desirable than a “liberal” one. How does one apply the duties of county clerk to fit a political ideology? Now that I think about it, I can come up with only one possible avenue: whether the county clerk would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as required by federal law. It is my fervent hope that I might be reading too much into that explosive issue and how it might determine whether voters will make a “conservative choice” in selecting their next county clerk.

The county clerk is responsible for maintaining records for county courts at law. The clerk also manages voter registration and serves as the chief elections officer for a given county. Where does it really matter whether the county clerk adheres to a conservative or liberal political philosophy?

I’ve wondered before — on the record — about the partisan or ideological requirements for a number of such offices. They include tax assessor-collector, treasurer, district clerk (which administers records for state district courts) and, yes, even for sheriff and district attorney.

Does it really matter if a county’s top cop and top prosecutor belong to a particular political party? For that matter, how does a Republican tax collector-assessor do his or her job any differently from a Democrat? Same for treasurer.

Perhaps you’ve known that I also dislike the idea of electing judges on partisan ballots. I won’t go there — this time!

I’m sure Susan Allen and all the other county clerk candidates are fine people. They all are more than likely technically qualified to do the job required of them under the state laws they take an oath to follow to the letter.

Ideology should be a non-starter. I damn sure hope that’s the case in Randall County.

Clerk goes to jail for violating her oath


The Kim Davis story is driving me batty.

She’s now in jail because she won’t perform the duties as county clerk that are required of her. She took an oath to perform them. Now she’s saying she cannot because her “conscience” won’t allow her to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

A judge found her in contempt of court and threw her into the slammer.

Mike Huckabee has entered the fray by declaring that Davis’s jailing proves that the government has criminalized Christianity. The former Arkansas governor and current Republican presidential candidate says Davis is within her rights to invoke her “religious liberty” by refusing to follow the mandate set down by the United States Supreme Court.

Huck is wrong.

Davis’s religious liberty is not being challenged here. She is free to pray as she wishes. She is free to attend whatever church she wants. She is not free to flout the oath of office she took that says she shall uphold state and federal law.

The federal law now includes a decision by the Supreme Court that says gay couples are entitled under the U.S. Constitution to be married. But then Huckabee dismisses that ruling, declaring on Davis’s behalf that, by golly, that decision merely comes from “nine unelected federal judges.”

Davis, as county clerk in Rowan County, Ky., is required to follow that law.

She hasn’t done so. She’s now in jail.

She needs to quit. Or … she needs to be removed from office.

Let’s put this story to bed. It’s gone on long enough.