Tradition has its place in transition

I’m a bit of a sucker for political tradition.

Take, for instance, what happens when we change presidents of the United States. There’s a long-standing tradition of the outgoing president instructing his staff to work with the staff of the incoming president. The two leaders exchange ideas, the outgoing guy gives the new guy tips on what to expect, how he might respond to certain events.

The tradition concludes with the outgoing president leaving a note in the Oval Office desk for the new president to read. It’s often a personal note of congratulations and expressions of good luck … that kind of thing.

Does that tradition exist at county courthouses?

One of my sources in the Potter County Courthouse tells me he believes not. I asked him recently about whether he detected any close working relationship between the outgoing and incoming county judges. He shook his head “No.”

Nancy Tanner is going to become the next Potter County judge in January. She’s replacing a man for whom she worked for two decades. County Judge Arthur Ware fired Tanner in 2013 for reasons he hasn’t yet specified publicly. Tanner then went on to win this spring’s Republican primary for county judge, defeating four other candidates. No Democrat is on the ballot, so her nomination was tantamount to election.

Tanner has picked a transition team. I keep wondering, though, if she’s working at all with Ware — her former boss and the guy who cut her loose.

Ware’s communication skills have been hampered since he suffered a debilitating stroke in 2010. I’m not entirely clear whether the current judge is able to verbalize effectively.

Tanner does the advantage of knowing much of the nuts and bolts of county government already. She was Ware’s administrative assistant and developed a solid working knowledge of how the various county departments interact with each other and with the county judge’s office.

Maybe she won’t need Ware to hold her hand — figuratively — as she prepares to assume the post of county judge.

Still, it would serve the cause of tradition if Ware offered some help to the new judge.

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