By Lin Burleigh
White Pine County Clerk
My career in public service began in November 2007. I had relocated to Ely a year earlier and figured it was time to get back into the workforce. I wanted something new and exciting—just like the adventure I had embarked upon moving to Nevada.
Donna Bath gave me that opportunity. She is a wonderful mentor and I appreciated the way she ran her office. I liked her no nonsense but professional approach. The “get it done” attitude is what I believe in and is the way I like to do business.
My decision to take a stab at County Clerk came out of frustration from watching a respectful and respected office take a down turn. I felt that the Clerk’s Office could not survive another term under Donna’s replacement and it was out of desperation and need of the office that I filed my candidacy.
My whole life has been spent doing the “right thing” and I didn’t take the oath of office lightly. I don’t cater to the Good Old Boys. My parents instilled in my brothers and myself a sense of honesty, hard work, and compassion. Public service should be no different. I personally hold elected officials to a higher standard.
The office of County Clerk is complicated. The history of White Pine County goes back over one hundred years. The office serves the County in countless ways. Some of the miscellaneous items we handle are issuing marriage licenses, fictitious firm names, filing notary public bonds, and various “odd” jobs. The County Clerk and her Deputies are authorized to administer the Official Oath for the State of Nevada. A Constitutional duty of the Clerk is to serve as the record keeper of the county.
First, the County Clerk serves as the Clerk of the Seventh Judicial District Court for the State of Nevada. This includes assisting the Judges in the courtroom during trials and hearings, keeping files on criminals, civil, juveniles, probates, habeas corpus, and several more categories. The Clerk needs a thorough understanding of all these as well as knowing what constitutes giving legal advice, which we are forbidden to do. The number of cases in all these categories grows every year. Each case has steps that must be followed accurately. We currently scan every page of every document as it is filed—anywhere from 500 pages to 1500 pages per week. This allows the judges to view each case on his computer and insures he has all the latest information on a case at any given time. Eventually the scanned documents will be converted into microfiche for permanent retention. The judges and my staff are among the finest people I know and I have been privileged to work with them. I will greatly miss this part of the job.
As the Registrar of Voters and Election Official, the County Clerk has to satisfy over 4500 voters in our County and the Secretary of State. People don’t usually contact the County Clerk if they move, so we spend a good bit of time tracking people down. Election laws and reports grow in complexity and number each year. It has been very satisfying to be a major part of the voting process. The act of voting is such a privilege. The complaint I hear most is that “I don’t know who to vote for”. My best advice: keep your eyes and ears open and make the wisest choice you can with the knowledge you have. Some will be a hit and others, a flop. And you will know when they take office which is which. Election years can be rough, but it pays off working with the dedicated Poll Workers we have in White Pine. My most sincere thanks to all of them for they do an incredible job and we would not be able to function so smoothly without them. They are wonderful to work with! I will greatly miss this part of the job.
The Clerk’s work with the County Commission has been the most difficult. Not because of the duties associated with it, but with a Commission (in my opinion) who feels they are the ultimate authority and it doesn’t really matter what the NRSs or Constitution say. “This is White Pine County. I am White Pine County” has been said on several occasions in public meetings since I took office. I’ve heard time and again that “these new people and young people think they know it all”. Egos should not have a place in government. And as long as WE THE PEOPLE put up with it, egos will be inflated and unwise decisions will be made. I have had a front row seat and I have seen good, hardworking people leave this County because of the treatment they have received at the hands of the County Commission. I have witnessed the Commission badger, bully, intimidate, and degrade good people doing a great job for the County. I have watched favoritism, overspending, temper tantrums and ass kissing. I can understand tantrums from a group of preschoolers with only one toy in the room, but from grown people who are representing me is inexcusable! I’ve been embarrassed to have out-of-county officials and visitors witness the harassment and treatment of people. I have witnessed fist pounding, eye rolling, cursing. I have witnessed total unprofessionalism and unethical behavior. I have witnessed the Commission completely ignore advice from its Counsel. This is not how I would like to see other people view our beautiful county. I have personally been disrespected—that I can tolerate– but do not disrespect my office. I’ve been undermined, called a liar, and ignored. After her defeat in the Primary a thank you ad was placed in the Times. I took offense that “a major change needs to take place in the Clerk’s Office”. I beg to differ. The Clerk’s Office is not the one that needs change. The Clerk’s office adheres to the laws and Constitution of the great State of Nevada and the great Nation called the United States. We may not always like the law, but until it is changed, we follow it: it is our duty to do so. I would encourage my replacement to follow the letter of the law and not waive under pressure from those that have no respect for it. I will not miss this part of the job.
Reflecting back, I have no regrets. It has been a privilege to serve some of the most fantastic people I have ever met and would not have met if I had not been elected. I have great respect for you and I hope that it has shown through. I sincerely thank all who have supported and encouraged me through the years. From where I sit, these are my opinions and this is my point of view. Thank you for asking.