Clerk's resignation leaves Fresno Co in a bind

FRESNO, Calif.

Asked why he's stepping down so quickly after 11 years , Fresno County Clerk Victor Salazar told Action News: "Its time. It's what's best for me and my family."

But Salazar acknowleded personal reasons were combined with the frustrations of operating without an adequate staff .

"We've lost 60 per cent of our staff," he said.

A short staff due to budget cuts was blamed for long lines and other problems at the polls in the 2010 election, which lead to public criticism of Salazar.

With another big election coming up in June, Salazar's sudden decision to quit did not sit well with County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, who was just named Board Chair.

"I'm very disappointed in the timing, with the election coming up in June, it really puts the county in a bind. " Board Member Susan Anderson says the board should act quickly.

"One option is to appoint someone to fill out the rest of his term," she said.

Anderson is the former county clerk. She believes a current, or past manager in the department could take over. Other options include hiring someone from the outside, or consolidating the County Clerk and Elections Office under another elected office, like the County Assessor.

Salazar thinks getting rid of his job is a good idea, through consolidation because it would save money.

"If they can eliminate one department head, one position that would save the county $560 thousand over the duration of the term. In these times thats needed."

But right now the process of getting through the June primary, and the Presidential election this year is on the board's shoulders.

Anderson says: "We want to make sure there are no problems in that office the voters are not disenfranchised and the election runs smoothly.

The County Clerks job can legally be folded into another elected office. While being the registrar of voters has traditionally been part of the Clerk's duties, but it doesn't have to be. It can be split into a separate office.

But Fresno County voters have rejected that idea twice in the past, most feeling it's better to keep whoever is in charge of elections away from the political influence of Board of Supervisors.

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