Mildred calling it quits
Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Mildred Alsdorf just isn’t the retiring type.So even at the age of 77, it wasn’t easy for her to decide against running for another term of office.But Alsdorf is bowing to family wishes and some of the difficulties of a job she still loves. After 27 years as county clerk, and 35 years working in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, she will leave her job at the end of the year.”I enjoy my job, and it was a really hard decision,” Alsdorf said Monday, after announcing her decision Saturday night at the Garfield County Republicans’ Lincoln Day Dinner.Alsdorf’s decision will bring to an end one of the longest terms of service by an elected official in Garfield County history. Her tenure wasn’t entirely without controversy. In recent years, Alsdorf sometimes was the target of criticism over problems that arose in her handling of elections, one of the highest-profile aspects of her job.”She served for a long time, but it’s certainly time for a change,” said Leslie Robinson, a local activist in the Democratic Party.Alsdorf presided over some more minor election glitches, including occasional delays in reporting results. But more significantly, in 2003 a nonbinding count under the federal Help America Voting Act found that Larry Beckwith and Rick Davis had tied in a Glenwood Springs City Council race, after Alsdorf had declared Beckwith the winner by three votes. Davis conceded the election. That same year, she found that a mill levy override for Garfield School District 16 failed by six votes. The HAVA recount determined it had passed by 17 votes, and the Secretary of State’s Office ordered Alsdorf to change the election results accordingly.Alsdorf said elections used to be fun.”But they’re not as much fun anymore, and there’s too many people out there looking for you to make a mistake,” she said.She said she also got tired of new election regulations coming down from the federal government.”They give you the regulations, but they don’t give you the money to go with it,” she said.This year county clerks face a deadline for installing voting equipment for use by those with vision or hearing problems. In Colorado, clerks are trying to figure out what equipment to buy when it hasn’t even been certified for use yet, Alsdorf said.She and some other clerks think it would be easier to conduct this year’s election entirely by mail. But that’s currently illegal because it’s a partisan election, so it would take legislative action to allow it.There’s more to Alsdorf’s decision to retire besides frustrations surrounding elections.”As my kids tell me, ‘Mom, you can’t work 50 to 60 hours a week anymore. It’s not good for you.'”She has three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Despite the chance to see more of them, she still is having a hard time figuring out how she will keep busy in retirement.”I know that I’m not going to be able to sit around home,” she said.She also fully expects to volunteer as an election judge and around the clerk’s office. That’s understandable for someone who has worked in the office nearly half her life.Alsdorf is from Eaton. She and her husband, Carrol, operated a bulk gasoline station in Commerce City and came to Glenwood Springs when they bought a Tenneco station in west Glenwood.Alsdorf worked for an insurance company and then became deputy county clerk under Ella Stephens. She said she got the job because she was active in the Republican Party and Stephens knew of her office skills.When Stephens later became county treasurer, Alsdorf successfully ran to replace her as clerk. She said she has seen a lot of changes over her tenure. Where once her office relied on manual typewriters, for example, now most everything is computerized, and Alsdorf said she couldn’t run the office otherwise.Robinson said it may be time for someone with a computer background to be county clerk. But Alsdorf said she finds technology interesting and easy to learn. Even in her final year on the job, she is working to install new voter and vehicle registration systems, and getting into electronic recording of documents.”I’ve got a lot of things I want to get accomplished,” she said.No one has announced their candidacy to replace Alsdorf yet. She said she wouldn’t be surprised to see someone in her office run. Robinson said Democrats have lined up a candidate who has experience and new ideas, and will be coming forward soon. Tom Beard, chairman of the county Republican Party, lauded Alsdorf.”She’s just been an outstanding county clerk and a true treasure to the county. She’ll be missed,” he said.Beard has monitored local elections on behalf of his party. He said the general public doesn’t appreciate how difficult the election process is and how much work it requires.”I have nothing to say but praise for Mildred. She’s just been absolutely invaluable.”
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