Claasen retains post following rift with Storey Commissioners

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VIRGINIA CITY -- Commissioners voted Tuesday to retain Deputy District Attorney Sharon Claassen despite a debate over caring for children at work, but her contract will be reviewed again when it expires in July.

"I still question how dedicated you are to taking care of cases in the county," said Commissioner Greg "Bum" Hess. "I don't feel canceling your contract is in our best interests because of the court cases you're working on now. That is the only reason not to cancel this contract."

The issue surfaced when a legal secretary employed at the Storey County District Attorney's office wanted to keep her 2-month-old infant at work for about three months.

Citing liability issues, Storey commissioners voted in December to establish a policy that forbids county employees from keeping their children with them in the workplace.

Claassen disagreed with that action, but in a letter dated Jan. 10 and again at the commissioners' meeting Tuesday, she apologized for her zeal.

"I thought the idea of bringing a child into the office was a good one and I was surprised that the issue turned into such a hot controversy," she said. "The issue became a very emotional one for me. My actions were rash and for that I apologize. I'm an advocate, but an advocate shouldn't get carried away.

"The position I was supporting was held by my office and subsequently my boss," Claasen said. "When (District Attorney) Janet Hess decided not pursue this issue, the whole point became moot. I feel child care has been overlooked in this country and that's too bad, but as far as this issue goes, I have no opinion."

Janet Hess and Greg Hess are not related.

Claassen deals with Storey County's criminal issues. Her first responsibility is to the people and the county and, she said, she always tries to do the research and give straight answers.

Storey County's four-person District Attorney's Office employs two full-time assistants and both attorneys work part-time. Hess handles civil cases and deals with issues that concern the commissioners. She was on vacation when the debate erupted.


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