Ask an Official: County Clerk discusses elected positions, terms
This week’s featured question was submitted for Lincoln County Clerk Chris Marlowe.
The question reads:
“What are the terms for all the elected offices in the county such as city council, mayor, county board, sheriff and so on? Also, why do some have four year terms and some have two year terms? Who decides how long of a term each office has?”
Answer as given by Marlowe:
“Our freedom is based on our ability to elect our public officials. Each elected office comes with a term of employment. If the people want change in any given office, they have the ability to do so at the beginning of an office’s term. Our local governments are the roots of our society and can enhance our way of life. Our local offices govern or regulate the services that our communities need to prosper or merely exist. Our federal and state governments regulate our local governments and protect our freedoms in many ways.
“Our county governments are extensions of the state government and locally manage programs mandated by the state. City and municipal governments regulate services within their smaller boundaries. All of our local and state offices are defined in our state statutes. This includes the length of all terms. Cities and municipalities have some leeway in terms of the length of a given term and also have the ability to dictate whether some offices are elected or appointed. The advantage of an appointed office is the ability to solicit a qualified candidate. The disadvantage of appointed offices is that the control of the office is somewhat taken away from the electors. Ultimately appointments are ratified by our local elected government boards or councils.
“The advantage of an elected office is that an official answers directly to their electors and is not swayed by an individual or the board that appointed them. This assures transparency and creates checks and balances within a given government. Term lengths vary by office and can be changed by state legislators or in some cases local boards. County officials terms were increased to four years approximately ten years ago. As county government staff sizes decreased it became necessary to lengthen the terms of office to maintain consistency. I can attest to the fact that it takes a good four years in the county clerk’s office to fully grasp what the office all entails.
“Below I have put together a list of all of our local offices. You will find the length of the term, when they are elected, when the next term begins, the amount of signatures needed to get on the ballot, and the office that files the necessary paperwork for one to become a candidate.”
“I would encourage all to get involved in their local governments. This is the basis of our freedom. Everyone is concerned about their communities, but very few take the steps necessary to make a difference. One can also make a difference by voicing their opinions to their elected officials so they can make their decisions based on their constituents’ needs. An elected official will not last long if he or she ignores the needs of their electors.”
Have a question or concern you would like to address? Simply send your question or concern to email@example.com along with an indication of which entity your question or concern pertains to. Current participants are the Merrill Police Department, Merrill Fire Department, Tomahawk Police Department, Lincoln County Administrative Coordinator Randy Scholz, Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson, Merrill Area Housing Authority Director Paul Russell, Lincoln County Clerk Chris Marlowe and Merrill Area Public Schools (MAPS) Superintendent Dr. John Sample. Please note: Those who submit to the ‘Ask an Official’ feature remain anonymous