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Chief Deputy for Recording and Elections Rebecca Connors will be Missoula County’s new elections administrator, Missoula County announced Tuesday in a news release.

Missoula County commissioners selected Connors to serve as the first appointed elections administrator after advertising the position. In a controversial move earlier this summer, commissioners split election duties out of the partisan elected clerk and recorder/treasurer position and created a full-time appointed elections administrator.

A longtime elections official argued elections had grown complicated over the years and required full-time, qualified leadership. Many leaders of the Missoula County Democrats, though, pressed commissioners to retain an elections administrator directly accountable to voters.

In a unanimous vote, commissioners followed a staff recommendation and created the new appointed position. However, they also limited the first term to three years and made plans to evaluate the job toward the end of the first term.

Connors steps into the new position Aug. 18. She is on track to obtain a master’s in public administration from Montana State University in December; she has an undergraduate degree in political science and communications from Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.

“Rebecca has worked under strong leadership in the elections office and has a thorough understanding of the significant challenges and opportunities the job presents,” Commissioner Jean Curtiss said in a statement. “She’s going to hit the ground running.”

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Connors was hired by Missoula County in October 2011 to serve as elections coordinator. In December 2012, she was appointed as chief deputy for recording and elections.

“I’m so honored to be selected for this position,” Connors said in a statement. “Every voter deserves to have a great experience, and I couldn’t be more excited to work hard and deliver that experience for the electors of Missoula County.”

The salary for the new position is under negotiation.

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Reach Keila Szpaller at @keilaszpaller, at keila.szpaller@missoulian.com or at (406) 523-5262.

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University of Montana, higher education