Denver Post - Peg's plan for new Clerk challenges

(4/15/19) Jon Murray of The Denver Post detailed many of the duties of the Denver Clerk’s office and why it was important and then profiled each of the candidates running to succeed retiring Clerk Debra Johnson.

First, he gave some history on the office and general background on the candidates:

Three candidates are running in the open race for clerk and recorder. Though the office’s duties may seem a little dry for campaign politics, the rest of city government and nearly all Denver residents depend, at some point, on its wide-ranging functions — including running Denver’s elections, issuing marriage licenses, keeping official city records and playing an important role in home foreclosures.

And it’s been just a dozen years since a Denver election meltdown spurred the elevation of the clerk position to an elected post, similar to most other Colorado counties. Amid calls for greater accountability, voters nixed the longstanding Election Commission.

Debra Johnson, the two-term incumbent, decided against seeking another term.

The trio of candidates who hope to lead the Clerk and Recorder’s Office come from varying backgrounds.

Peg Perl, the first entrant in the race early last year, is a public policy attorney who’s made a career as an ethics guru and campaign finance reform advocate. City Councilman Paul López, who has represented west Denver for the maximum three terms allowed, is seeking a new role in city government. And Sarah O. McCarthy, a longtime government administrator and preservation consultant, ran for clerk in 2011 — losing narrowly to Johnson in a close runoff — and is giving it another shot.

In the shadow of Mayor Michael Hancock’s contested re-election campaign, the tough-to-predict clerk’s race has gotten less attention. López has drawn on longtime union and community support to amass just over $100,000, while Perl has raised nearly $45,000 and McCarthy has collected just under $3,000 in campaign donations.

After explaining important new campaign finance duties of the Clerk to implement the Fair Elections Program passed by Denver voters last fall, the article asks “what sets the candidates apart?”

Perl, 44, wants to make the online campaign-finance reporting system more useful to the public, and she sees an opportunity to combine campaign, disclosure, gift and related lobbying reports in one place for each Denver elected official.

When she was the senior counsel for the now-defunct Colorado Ethics Watch, Perl supported a public financing system similar to that sought by the initiative’s backers. Earlier, she joined Johnson among the groups and officials that pushed for the state’s 2013 Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, which has resulted in the sending of mail ballots to all active voters before each election and the ability to register to vote through Election Day.

She previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an attorney advising the Federal Election Commission and the U.S. House Ethics Committee.

“This is really an extension of the things I’ve been doing throughout my career,” Perl said about the clerk’s office.

Read the full article in The Denver Post here.