Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner has just assumed a monstrously full plate of issues.
She took her oath of office today — an oath that seemed to have no end, to be candid — after telling the crowd crammed into the Santa Fe Building auditorium that she plans to get right to work as head of the county’s commissioners court.
* The Santa Fe Building is one-third empty, Tanner said, and she plans to put more county employees into the 85-year-old structure. Where is she going to get them? From the Courts Building across the street from the old County Courthouse. The Courts Building needs major work to make it less of a hazard and Tanner said she has plans to deal with the lousy structure that former County Judge Arthur Ware has referred to as “The Grain Elevator.”
* Morale is low in several county departments, Tanner said, and she plans to improve it.
* Taxes are “too high,” according to the new county judge, who said the best cure for that is to bring “more business” into Potter County. No specifics came today on how she plans to do that.
Tanner’s swearing-in ceremony was festive and friendly. Tanner is a dedicated Republican officeholder, but I was glad to see a smattering of known Democrats among those who attended the event. They’re all friends of the new judge. Indeed, retired Court at Law Judge Dick Dambold — who administered the lengthy oath to Tanner — held office as a Democrat. So it was good to see Tanner spread the love across partisan lines in Potter County.
The judge took note of how she was able to be elected to the office by defeating four other Republican candidates outright, avoiding a runoff — a result that surprised a lot of political observers, including yours truly.
Still, I am delighted for the county as well as for the new judge. Her former boss, Ware, fired Tanner in 2013 from her job as administrative assistant to the county judge for reasons he’s never explained publicly. Tanner’s dismissal was part of an awkward and embarrassing set of events that included Ware’s endorsement of one of Tanner’s opponents in the upcoming primary.
Happily, though, Ware and Tanner have made peace and they’re back to being friends.
It’s a new day, though, in Potter County. Tanner took note that she becomes the county’s first female county judge.
She took the oath, applause rang forth from the crowd in attendance, the curtain parted on the stage of the top-floor auditorium — and it revealed a sign: “History Begins Today.”
Congratulations, Judge Tanner.
Now, get to work.