Teton GOP

Sunday, May 31, 2020
Billy Arnold
Jackson Hole Daily

New clerk appointed after Dems question process

Maureen “Mo” Murphy will take Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle’s place starting Monday, when she will be sworn in.

“I’m a little shocked right now,” Murphy said in an interview with the Jackson Hole Daily shortly after the Teton County Board of County Commissioners appointed her this week. “I’m excited.”

The decision came two weeks after Daigle announced her retirement, kicking off an appointment process in which commissioners interviewed two of three candidates nominated by the Teton County GOP. Daigle was a Republican.

Chief Deputy Clerk Amy Evans was the other person vying for the job.

“I guess I’m just trying to get through the day and process the news,” Evans said after the decision was reached. “It was in the hands of others and they made the decision.”

Teton County GOP Chair Alex Muromcew was the third nominee. He threw his name in the hat, he said, because only two people expressed interest. Because statute requires the nominating party to send three names to commissioners, he made up the shortfall and withdrew himself from consideration after the names were sent.

Democrats and Republicans have disagreed over whether the timing of Daigle’s retirement and the subsequent appointment is good form.

The outgoing clerk said her decision to retire on May 31 had nothing to do with politics.
“It had nothing to do with filing or with any political games,” she said. “There were a lot of things that were supposed to be wrapped up by May 31” — including the county budget, which is nearing the finish line — “and that’s why I chose that date.”

When an elected office becomes vacant, Wyoming law requires the position to be filled by appointment if the vacancy opens after the first filing day of an election season. This year, the filing period for participating in the Aug. 18 primary as a major party candidate began May 14 and ends Friday. Daigle’s seat will officially become vacant Monday, and Murphy will fill it the same day.

Teton County Democrats penned a letter to the Jackson Hole Daily last week concerned about the timing.

If Daigle had chosen to retire earlier, they contended, her position would have been filled in the November election rather than through a late spring appointment.

“I think ultimately it’s about form more than function,” Rep. Andy Schwartz said in a phone call with the Jackson Hole Daily. “I don’t know that it was intentional but ... if she had done it earlier, we could’ve had an election.”

Muromcew said such concerns were baseless.

“This is a bunch of whining,” he said. “The process is in black and white. It’s been in the books for decades and that’s how it works. ... I’m not concerned.”

Schwartz worried about redistricting, which will happen after the 2020 census wraps up. County clerks have a role in that process, though Daigle said it’s not a political role.

“We only ask for a seat at the table to ensure that the lines that are drawn are clean election boundaries,” she said. “It has nothing to do with politics whatsoever.

“It is just so we can ensure what lines are drawn are clean,” she added, like making sure boundary lines don’t go through people’s houses.

Schwartz acknowledged that the clerk’s role is not as large in the process as he originally thought, but he said he was still concerned about redistricting.

“There’s clearly been efforts in redistricting to make it harder for Democrats to win seats in this part of the state,” he said, pointing to the earlier redistricting of Wilson and Dubois as examples. “As a group, we are hoping that won’t happen again.”

Murphy’s new role as clerk will be her first foray into public office.

She has spent 12 years at the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, where she is the director of Special Events and Community Affairs, responsible for things like the Fall Arts Festival.

She has recently been working on the task force outlining a road map for economic recovery from the pandemic.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” she said of working for the chamber.

Deputy Clerk Evans had experience in law enforcement, a title company and the clerk’s office.

Commissioners didn’t expound on their decision Tuesday.

“Teton County should be grateful that we had two outstanding professionals willing and able to step up to the Teton County Clerk’s position,” Commissioner Mark Barron said when the verdict was announced. “The decision was difficult, as you can imagine, and I really appreciate their willingness.”

Daigle said Murphy will have a lot to learn coming in from the private sector, but she was confident that her staff, including Evans, would help ease the transition.

“My staff is gonna support whoever comes in and carry on,” she said.

Daigle served as Teton County Clerk for 21 years.

“Sherry Daigle has done an amazing job for this community,” Murphy said. “Her shoes are going to be impossible to fill for quite a while.”



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