Clerk requests four new  employees

TINA PETERS

Four more people are leaving the Mesa County Clerk's office since Tina Peters won that job last year, including her top elections manager and DMV director.

But despite questions about her office's high turnover rate — nearly 20 have come and gone in the past year in the 32-person office — Peters maintains that is normal.

In the last couple of weeks, Elections and Recording Manager Jessica Empson, Division of Motor Vehicles Manager Melissa Herek, DMV Clerk Dylan Lively and the DMV clerk who operates the Clifton office, Don Clement, have all either left or have put in their final notices.

"This is a high-turnover office because of the fact that it doesn't pay and we're understaffed," Peters said. "I think people are trying to make more of what it is. When you have 32 employees and you need a few more, you're going to have people that either go to other places for more money or less stress."

Peters said such turnover isn't unusual in government work, especially when a new boss comes in, pointing to the Mesa County Treasurer's Office as an example.

That seven-person office, now led by Peters' predecessor, Sheila Reiner, also has seen high turnover. All but one, accounting specialist Christine Horner, have left since Reiner took over last year, although at the time there were already two unfilled positions.

Three of the people Reiner has hired all worked for her when she was county clerk. One of them is Herek. She's replacing Accounting Administrator Amy Bosse, who is retiring this month and moving to the Front Range to be a full-time grandmother.

But while Reiner has a full staff, Peters currently has 10 open positions, according to county documents that track employee positions.

Those county records show that at the end of November, Peters had seven open positions in her office, including two elections workers, two land-records technicians and two DMV employees. That doesn't include the newly opened elections and DMV positions.

One of those openings, however, was created when Belinda Knisley moved from being the clerk to the Mesa County Board of Commissioners, a position in Peters' office, to becoming Peters' chief deputy. That was needed when the former deputy, Heather Benjamin, resigned just before last month's general election and after less than a year on the job.

Despite all the turnover, Herek had nothing but good things to say about Peters.

"My experience here in the office is that when you have someone new that comes in, people don't like change," Herek said in a Sentinel telephone interview with Peters. "Some of these people who have left have that kind of personality. They don't want the change, they don't like the change. It has nothing to do with Tina. I think it's just, they wanted to keep things the same."

Peters said part of her management style doesn't sit well with everyone. She hires people for full-time positions on a temporary basis at first to see if they fit. If they don't, they either leave or find other jobs in the office they are more suited for, Peters said.

She said the openings listed for her office are actually filled, but with temporary hires who may end up becoming full-time employees.

"It's good for people to see if they're a good fit," she said. "We had a girl who was not happy in the motor vehicle division, and there was a place in the recording division. Now she is thriving there. She's smiling, she's excited. It's a different fit for different people. You just have to let people find where they fit in."

All of this comes at a time when Peters has asked the commissioners for the authority to create four more positions in her elections division. Peters expects to find out the status of that request on Monday when the commissioners are scheduled to approve next year's budget.