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October 21, 2011 08:11 PM UTC

21-Year-Old Running for Wheat Ridge City Clerk

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  • by: Colorado Pols

This hasn’t exactly been the most electrifying election season Jeffco’s ever seen. Races for the top spots in Lakewood, Arvada, Wheat Ridge, and Golden are all more or less uncontested, and as a result, there’s been less focus than usual, even, for downballot races for Treasurer, Clerk, and City Council positions. Sure, candidates have begun rolling out yard signs, but voters won’t really start paying attention until ballots arrive on their doorsteps, and even then, they still probably won’t know much about those for whom they’re voting.

In Wheat Ridge, there are campaigns for City Council in three districts, a campaign for city treasurer, and a remarkably competitive campaign for city clerk. City clerk is one of those odd positions that you wouldn’t really expect to be elected; it belongs more to a bureaucratic functionary than to a politico. In Wheat Ridge, the city clerk journals all council meetings, officiates and maintains custody of all official city documents, certifies all ordinances and resolutions passed by council, publishes all notices, proceedings, and so on and so forth. It’s an administrative position.

Needless to say, it’s a position that could really mess up the entire city if occupied by the wrong person. That’s the problem with directly electing an administrator; the City of Wheat Ridge may end up with the person best able to win an election, not the person best able to coordinate all the mechanisms that keep the city going.

Cue the four — yes, four— candidates running for city clerk in Wheat Ridge this year, and you may start to worry a little bit. Leah Dozeman, Lenny Ortiz, Deanna Davia, and Maureen Keller will all be appearing on the ballot this November. None of the candidates are really remarkable, but we think that Dozeman might be the worst of the bunch.

You may have seen Leah Dozeman’s yard signs popping up around the city. We’ve heard she’s done a pretty good job at canvassing; she’s knocked the doors you need to knock in order to win, and she’s getting her name out there. The problem with Dozeman, then, isn’t that she’s running a bad campaign. The big problem with Leah Dozeman is that she’s 21 years old, and the City Clerk position would be her first job.  

We’re not going to pick Dozeman apart for being young; young candidates often shine when elected to positions on city council or in the legislature. City Clerk isn’t one of those kinds of positions, though. If Dozeman was elected to the legislature or city council, there would be other elected officials to acquaint her with the job – more importantly, other elected officials could mitigate any problems Dozeman could cause.

In the City Clerk’s office, though, there’s so little oversight that Dozeman could easily end up really messing up the entire city. What does a 21 year old know about maintaining records of deeds, easements, or municipal codes? It’s ironic: Dozeman can barely drink legally, but if elected, she’d be directly responsible for coordinating all of Wheat Ridge’s liquor licenses.

Maybe Dozeman would be an amazing city clerk. Maybe she’s immensely qualified. If you checked her website to find out why she’s running, though, you may think otherwise:

Besides the obvious reasons for wanting this job like good pay and flexible schedule, but it also represents a step in the right direction for me.  I’ve been searching for a job that I actually feel as if I’m making a difference in and enhancing the world around me, but that was also down the alley of my field of study (Political Science).  And just as I hoped, an opportunity fell right into my lap and I of course had to jump on the chance, so here I am today.

Sure, Dozeman talks about how much she wants to serve her community and connect with other citizens; who wouldn’t say that?

The problem is that she also admits that she’s after good pay and a flexible schedule. It’s ridiculous. Nobody runs for president because the job “comes with a really cool house.” Nobody should run for clerk – let alone admit that they’re running for clerk – because of the job’s financial benefits. Voters are generally opposed to people running for public office to get rich.

Hell, anybody applying for any job should know better than saying “I’m really just in this for the money.” It doesn’t look good. If you told an interviewer that, the interview would end right there on the spot. Of course, we can’t expect Dozeman to know that: this would be her first job, remember?

Wheat Ridge’s clerk oversees the city’s Election Commission and is “in charge of activities and duties related to the conduct of elections.” That means that if Dozeman were elected, she uniquely would be able to administer much of Wheat Ridge’s election law. Is the best person to make sure you have free and fair elections the one who’s doing the job for the money? We think not. Scott Gessler may disagree.  

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