Madison County elections, 2010: Two long-time public servants vie for Clerk of District Court

The Madison County Clerk of District Court race this year features two Ruby Valley women who have a lot of experience in the court and justice system.

Bundy Bailey has been the Clerk of District Court in Madison County for 12 years and she is facing a challenge to her seat by Karen Miller, who is currently the civil clerk and administrative assistant for the Madison County Sheriff.

The contested county races this year are Justice of the Peace, County Commissioner – district 2 and district 3, and Clerk of Court. The election is Nov. 2, but absentee ballots were sent out this week.

The other county offices up for re-election – clerk and recorder Kaatz, county attorney Chris Christensen, sheriff Dave Schenk and treasurer Shelly Burke – are all running uncontested.

The Clerk of District Court files every court document for the Fifth Judicial District Court in Madison County. The fifth judicial district covers Beaverhead and Jefferson Counties as well. However, each county has its own clerk of court.

In Madison County, the Clerk of District Court makes $45,039 a year.

The Madison County clerk of court also oversees historical court records dating back to the territorial days, said Bailey.

Bailey was born and raised in Sheridan and has worked for Madison County for 35 years, first as deputy Clerk of District Court and then in the county treasurer’s office.

“I have the experience necessary to maintain consistency,” Bailey said. “I love my job. Being a public servant is a pleasure for me.”

Bundy’s favorite thing about her job is its uniqueness.

“It’s different everyday,” she said. “You just never stop learning. No two Mondays are the same.”

Other services the Clerk of District Court provides are marriage licenses as well as handling paperwork for probate cases and adoptions, Bailey said.

However, one service Bailey decided to drop in 2008 was providing passport paperwork. The task service was a drain on her staff’s time, she said.

“The time spent issuing passports takes away from the county function and staff,” Bailey said.

However, Miller believes the Clerk of District Court should provide the passport service.

The citizens of Madison County have nowhere else to go in the county to get a passport, Miller said.

“To me it was a valuable service,” she said.

The money made from passports was fairly minimal, Bailey said. And it went directly to offset the Clerk of District Court’s salary.

However, in Beaverhead County, which still provides passport services, the service brought in about $5,000 last year, Miller said.

Miller is running for Clerk of District Court because she feels like she can bring more efficiency to the office and because it’s been one of her career goals since she started working in Madison County Justice Court in 1996.

Miller has lived in the Ruby Valley for 16 years. She started working at the county in the Clerk of District Court’s office in 1994. She then worked in Justice Court, sometimes filling in as a substitute judge.

Miller began splitting time with sheriff’s office several years ago, before moving over permanently five years ago.

“I enjoyed being Clerk of Justice Court and that was my career goal to someday be the Clerk of District Court,” Miller said.

Traditionally, elected officials in the courthouse, outside of the commissioners, don’t get challengers to their seats from other offices at the county, Miller said. But she decided to buck tradition and seek the office.

“If I’m going to run, now’s the time to run,” she said. “There should be competition and competition is good for these offices.”

Miller also points to her experience in the judicial system, both in civil and criminal cases, as a big benefit to being Clerk of District Court.

“You need to know about the criminal and civil laws,” Miller said. “I just think I really could make a positive change and save the taxpayers some money.”

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