With the retirement of Jean Alberico, after 16 years as Garfield County’s clerk and recorder, two candidates are running to lead that vital office this November. In addition to overseeing voter registrations and elections, the clerk and recorder office manages motor vehicle titling and registration, real estate transactions, marriage licenses, birth and death records and acts as the recorder for the Board of County Commissioners.
The Sopris Sun caught up with both candidates individually. Their responses to the same questions have been interwoven for this article.
With 30 years living in Garfield County, including 21 working directly for the county, Jackie Harmon promises strong customer service informed by experience. Her local journey began in Carbondale, where her children attended Crystal River Elementary School. She now lives in Silt, worked as branch manager for the county’s clerk and recorder office in Rifle and last year as motor vehicle manager for both offices.
Becky Moller, a resident of Carbondale who moved to the Valley in 2001, has been a municipal election judge for Carbondale, special districts and Pitkin County. Her 17 years of legal experience includes work with statutes and regulations, she runs her own contract and paralegal business and is a former firefighter, syllabus education contractor and natural resources specialist. Moller earned her Master of Business Administration degree last year and volunteers as a mediator for Garfield and Eagle County small claims courts.
Harmon is inspired by the rare opportunity to step into leadership at the county office. “Once Jean [Alberico] announced that she was not running, a lot of people from the community reached out to me and encouraged me [to run] … it spurred me on to step up and say, ‘Okay, I’m ready to lead the office and we’re going to have a good time.’”
Prior to submitting her candidacy, Moller was registered with the Green Party. She decided to run when she saw no other candidates joining the race in February after Alberico announced her retirement. Harmon entered the race in early March, initially unopposed. “I have the legal experience … I have the skills, I have the kind of personality for it,” Moller reflected, “I’m the kind of person that will step up and say if things aren’t being done right.”
Harmon’s time working for the county has given her direct insight into the responsibilities of the role, as well as relationships with county staff and staff in other counties. She said that, with Alberico’s departure, “change is going to come.” In addition to “bringing a fresh look to the Glenwood office,” Harmon looks forward to adapting to incorporate new legislation for elections rules and security.
Through her professional research into water rights, titles and properties, Moller is also familiar with the office, as well as Pitkin and Eagle counties. “Garfield is the only one where you can’t get deeds 24/7,” she observed. Additionally, based on what she’s heard in conversation with car dealerships, Moller would look into speeding up car titling. Other county work assures her that she’s prepared for the job.
Regarding political division and doubts surrounding election integrity, Harmon said, “it’s a shame that it’s happened … Colorado is quite a leader in the United States for how elections should be run.” She told The Sopris Sun that attaching party affiliation to the county clerk and recorder role is problematic, but education is key. “Come on in, the office is open for anyone with questions.”
“I think education is really important, so people know what our process is,” Moller agreed. She considers reaching out to the schools as a possible remedy for division and doubt. “Once you get the students on board, they’ll tell their parents,” she said, relating it to recycling education. Also, “being open and honest” and encouraging anyone that’s curious to join the elections process and learn more.
“Garfield County citizens should vote for me with confidence that I’m going to do a great job, as I have for the past 21 years,” said Harmon. She called the election “a community event, not a party event,” and said, “We’re family, we’re a community, we just do the task at hand: good customer service, good community service.”
Moller’s desire is to foster a culture of problem solving and teamwork in the office. “I think it behooves the office to be able to have people that can move between departments as much as possible.” She added that she’s “never been a status quo person” and is “always looking to improve processes.”
The biggest challenge Harmon sees facing the county is its growth. “Garfield County is growing huge, our population is increasing, so the demands on the office are increasing.” To address those demands, she would evaluate staffing and whether the best tools are being utilized. With only eight hours per day, she sees it as essential that technology is put to best use, including online tools that save both the customer and county time.
Moller suspects the greatest challenge will be staffing. “The salaries that the county can pay definitely don’t equate to being able to buy a house in the county, probably not even on the west end,” she lamented. It will be necessary, she said, “to start thinking outside the box and looking at other options,” such as providing part-time jobs for mothers, students and other people willing to work a job that fits with their schedules.
Regarding strategies for success, Harmon said, “I’m a very relationship person, I like to visit with people.” Her “main vision” for the office is “education and communication,” online and in-person.
Moller looks forward to getting the office involved with schools, Rotary clubs and other community organizations. She thinks the website could use an update and would like to automate more services, “to optimize staff to do things that can’t be automated.”
Both Harmon and Moller have campaign Facebook pages. Find them at “Jackie Harmon For Garfield County Clerk 2022” and “Becky Moller 4 GarCo Clerk.” Moller also has a campaign website: www.beckymollergarcoclerk.com
“Being of the Valley, I love many things,” said Jackie Harmon, “going to the alpaca ranch, different community ranches, I love hiking, being with my six grandkids…” Courtesy photo, pictured here at Potato Day
Becky Moller’s only hobby of late is campaigning, she joked, which has given her dogs plenty of exercise while she talks to voters. She refers to one as her “campaign manager.” Courtesy photo, pictured here with fellow county candidates Ryan Gordon (left) and Aron Diaz (right)