Rebecca Connors

Missoula County Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors, center, earlier this year led a tour of election facilities.

The hiring pool is open for elections administrator and the standards are high.

Running elections may sound easy (they’re only every two years, right?), but the Missoula Board of County Commissioners recently decided it should be a full-time appointed position, after a three-year trial run showed there was more than enough work to warrant the job.

“We are at a point in our history where we must have someone dedicated full time to the task of managing and administering elections,” Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said in a news release. “Elections are just too complex in our large county, and the public, rightfully, has a high expectation of competency in this role.”

The current elections administrator, Rebecca Connors, is leaving the county in December, according to the release, and the commission is looking for a suitable replacement.

Applications are being accepted until Wednesday, Nov. 29, and the job posting on the county’s website asks that candidates have a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience in business management, public administration or any job related to elections administration, as well as three years in a supervisor customer service job.

According to the release, the interview format and selection committees have yet to be finalized by the commission, as does the salary, although the online job posting lists $36 an hour for the base wage.

The elections administrator answers directly to Chief Administrative Officer Vickie Zeier, the former elected Clerk and Recorder, who previously ran elections.

It was on Zeier’s recommendation that the commission tried appointing a standalone elections administrator in 2014. At a recent commissioners meeting, she recounted running an election while also running for office; an overwhelming amount of work, not to mention weird.

“I would work long hours preparing for the election and then go to campaign,” Zeier said at the October meeting. “It was extremely awkward.”

At that meeting, nearly every comment, for or against an elected elections administrator, was preceded by or qualified with praise for Connors’ work.

The Elections Advisory Committee, a seven-member board that oversees and advises Connors on running the county’s elections, split 4-3, to vote in favor of retaining the appointed position, according to Chair Geoff Badenoch, though he said they all appreciated working with Connors.

“We are very, very happy with the work Rebecca has done,” Badenoch said. “In my experience, she has performed a nonpartisan, competent, thorough, reflective, responsive job. She has been there, she has been innovative.

“That to me is a hallmark of the value of this position.”

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City, County Government Reporter

Government Reporter for The Missoulian.