May 5, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

Replacing the Clerk of Court should not be a walk-over, and it won't be

The news Wednesday that a second candidate is seeking appointment to the soon-to-be-vacated Fremont County Clerk of District Court position is a positive development.

Longtime Clerk of Court Katie Brodie Meredith announced in April that she will resign her elected position in a couple of months, necessitating the need for a replacement to be named on an interim basis.

We note again with some distress the departure in mid-term of a duly elected public official. This seems to happen often in Fremont County, from school boards to the community college trustees, to city councils and the Wyoming Legislature. Elected officials are human beings with life circumstances that can change, but it always is a concern when an official who has asked for voter support and received it for a full elected term opts not to complete that term. It happens so often in Fremont County, in fact, that all political candidates ought to ask themselves if they truly intend to serve the full-term that they are asking voters to give them -- and they shouldn't be astonished if voters ask them the same thing.

Fortunately for Fremont County, at least two good candidates already have emerged to replace Brodie Meredith. That would be good in any case, but it is particularly so here in that it avoids the appearance of a pre-arranged succession to the office. While there certainly would be nothing wrong with the current deputy clerk being named to fill the vacancy, it ought to be more than a mere formality, so as to avoid the impression this had all been orchestrated ahead of time.

No one is saying, for the record, that such a quid pro quo exists, but with the emergence of a second candidate any whispering to that end can be rendered moot.

By law, the county's Republican Party is to submit three names for consideration to the post, not just two, so we can expect that yet another candidate or two will step forward.

The party and the commission may well opt to advance deputy clerk Kristi Green to fill the vacancy. Certainly she is eminently qualified for it. So, however, is Riverton clerk Jennifer Clymer, who threw her name into consideration last week. This will not simply be a walk-over for anyone. That's good, because any election, from the presidency to the interim appointment of a clerk of court, is made better when there is a fair and viable choice.

Thanks to Green, Clymer, and perhaps a couple of other candidates still to be heard from, there will be such a choice. Ideally, Brodie Meredith would have completed the term voters elected her to serve, but there is a plan in place to account for an unexpected vacancy. So far, that process is unfolding just as it should, meaning that the office and the Fremont County electorate will be well served.

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