Doty seeks re-election as Arapahoe County Clerk

Posted 3/25/10

Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty tried to garner a little luck of the Irish at her St. Patrick’s Day campaign kick-off on March 17 at …

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Doty seeks re-election as Arapahoe County Clerk


Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty tried to garner a little luck of the Irish at her St. Patrick’s Day campaign kick-off on March 17 at Heather Ridge Country Club in Aurora.

The renamed “Nancy O’Doty” hosted a virtual who’s who of green-clad Arapahoe County Republicans at the event, which boasted live music, beer and corned-beef sandwiches.

“I said, I don’t want another wine-and-cheese party. They’re so boring,” Doty told the room, before cutting the rug — again, and again.

Officials there to wish the clerk luck included County Commissioner Susan Beckman, Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon and Greenwood Village Mayor Nancy Sharpe.

Doty, a certified public accountant with a background in banking, is seeking her second full four-year term running the office that oversees county elections, vehicle registrations and various record-keeping functions.

Although most citizens do not think much about the functionary roles of the clerk’s office, many of the county’s voters and vehicle owners have come to recognize Doty’s name on return envelopes.

“We actually pretty much touch everyone in the county with my office, either through elections or motor vehicle” she told supporters. “… People say, ‘oh, you’re Nancy Doty. You’re the one I write that check to.’”

The Republican touted her first-term decision to not spend $5 million on new voting equipment, an idea that had been promoted by her controversial predecessor.

“I’m a fiscal conservative and some of my staff say I’m kind of cheap,” she joked for the room. “… That’s the number-one part for me. So rest assured, I don’t spend your money unwisely.”

Doty’s decision to seek re-election came after she had flirted with running for Colorado secretary of state. The official says pragmatism caught up with that idea.

“I don’t think that office is conducive to a primary,” she told Colorado Community Newspapers. “If there’s a primary, it’d be difficult to win a general election. There’s not enough money.”

Doty, 64, was first elected clerk in a 2004 special election. She replaced Republican Tracy Baker, who had been removed from office in a recall election — the result of highly publicized finance and sex scandals.

The new clerk was widely credited — across party lines — for turning the office around, improving morale, revamping procedures and returning dignity to the beleaguered clerk position after statewide embarrassment.

“The office was in disarray when I took over, and it’s running very, very well right now,” Doty said. “The office is very well respected. My staff says they love their jobs and I don’t think that was the situation six years ago.”

Doty, a onetime Republican precinct leader, has state government experience. She served under Gov. Bill Owens as Colorado’s chief financial officer. Although she was well versed in record keeping, she had no background in other major areas of the clerk and recorder’s functions before seeking the county nod.

“I have a lot of management and auditing experience. I didn’t have any experience in elections or motor vehicles,” she said. “But I really believed I could come in and run it as a business.”

If re-elected, Doty plans to keep a close eye on the Colorado General Assembly as state legislators consider changes to the state’s election laws.

She opposes the idea of Election Day voter registration, saying it would be prone to fraud, but would support an all-mail statewide system, which, she says, would not.

“We know that ballot was sent to you,” Doty said of the process. “When that ballot comes back, we know you sent it back. We then verify the signature to make sure you voted that ballot.”

It is unclear how changing politics in Arapahoe County and elsewhere will affect the race for clerk. A Democrat has not yet emerged to challenge Doty in the once GOP-safe county that now boasts more Democrats than Republicans. Doty is not taking anything for granted.

“A lot can happen between now and November,” she said. “I think people are upset. That’s evidenced by the tea-party people. The Democrats could turn it around for themselves, but right now they may be going in the wrong direction.”

The clerk received applause when she announced she had joined the National Rifle Association.

Doty, who has vestiges of a Wisconsin accent, was raised on a dairy farm. She says the hard work of her childhood was an important part of her development — and not just for her government jobs. Doty spent two grueling years in Bolivia and in the Amazon rainforests with her first husband, a geologist.

“It was horrible,” she said. “We were the only Americans. I had to learn the language. I washed our clothes by hand. My son liked peanut butter so I made our own. Then I filtered the water. I made ice cream. I made bread every other day.”

Geology eventually took the Dotys to Colorado, where she raised her two children in Arapahoe County. The Centennial resident, widowed during her second marriage, is a grandmother of two.

Doty has never been tempted to reutilize her rustic homemaking skills since relocating from South America to the Denver suburbs.

“I don’t have to,” she joked. “I run elections now.”


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