In the primary election on May 17th Marion County voters will choose among three candidates, incumbent Bill Burgess, Tim Kirsch or Tom Checkert, for the nonpartisan position of County Clerk.

But what, many will ask, does the county clerk do? Good question.

The clerk has a variety of responsibilities including recording real property transactions, a necessary step in buying and selling land and improved real estate; handling elections from registration to preparation of the county Voter’s Pamphlets to collecting and counting ballots; and issuing or facilitating the issue of certain licenses and documents such as marriage licenses, liquor licenses and passports. The clerk also oversees the Board of Property Tax Appeals and performs archival services for other county divisions. Historically the clerk handled court filings and operations but that is now done by the State of Oregon.

Bill Burgess, the incumbent, is running for his fourth term. He has been clerk since taking office after his election in 2004. Burgess is an Oregon State university graduate with a degree in pharmacy. He practiced pharmacy but in the 1990’s became involved in Salem City politics and served two terms on the City Council from 1990 to 1998. He moved to the county in 2004. Along the way he earned a Master’s Degree from Lewis and Clark in Public Administration. He took special training at Auburn University in election registration and administration. Most recently he supervised the county’s adoption of electronic recording, a new system that speeds up the often cumbersome procedure requiring the county to process documents by hand. The system which only began in March, 2016 is being well received and already accounts for more than one half of new recordings. Burgess has a web page at: electbillburgess.com.

Challenger Tim Kirsch is a Mill City resident. Currently he is a department manager with a local hardware store. He and his wife also own two small businesses in Mill City. He has, in addition, a long career in public service including 12 years as Mayor of Mill City, service on the Mari-Linn School Board as well as on The Marion County Economic Development Advisory Committee and the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Advisory Council. Kirsch feels has the governmental experience, budgetary skills and leadership training to take on the Clerk position. He believes elected positions are “terms of service not careers.” It is, he contends, time for new blood. Kirsch has the endorsement of Marion County Commissioner Sam Bretano. Kirsch’s web page is being built and he says it will be available this week.

The third candidate, Tom M. Chereck, Jr., is a local landscaper and plant health care technician. Salem Weekly reached out to him for information on his qualifications and thoughts on the clerk’s office but has received no reply. He has a web site relating to his work but none that SW found concerning his campaign.