Outgoing Carson City Clerk/Recorder Alan Glover will wrap up a political journey of more than 35 years when he leaves office in January.
After 20 years in that post, he decided not to seek a sixth term this year, turning the office over to longtime Elections Deputy Sue Merriwether who won the post unopposed.
But the clerk’s office wasn’t Glover’s only time in politics. Before that he spent 14 years in the Nevada Legislature: five sessions in the Assembly and two in the Senate.
He comes from a family of politicians as his mother and father both held appointed positions in state government.
“I grew up in politics,” he said. “As a kid I spent a lot of time at the Capitol building.”
His father was head of the driver’s license division in the Highway Department. His mom was deputy state treasurer, then head of General Services under Gov. Mike O’Callaghan. She also was a member of the employee benefits board.
In fact, the only period where Glover wasn’t directly involved in politics was during the four years he spent at the University of Nevada getting a degree in political science.
“I stayed away from student government,” he said.
He won his Assembly seat in 1972 right after graduating.
He left the legislature to run for Secretary of State but lost that bid.
“I was lucky I did because term limits came in and I would have been out of a job,” he said.
Instead, he signed on with the clerk’s office as elections deputy, winning the clerk’s post in 1994 after the incumbent decided not to run.
While his tenure as clerk lasted 20 years — making him the longest serving clerk — during that time he brought the operation of the clerk and recorder’s offices forward more than a century.
When Glover became clerk in 1994, he said records were being kept much the way they were when the office was created in the 1800s.
“Mortgages, titles, land transactions and everything else was kept in huge leather-bound books that cost like $1,200 apiece,” he said. “And we needed 20 of them a year.”
With the money saved by not buying those books, he said, he bought all the computers and other equipment needed to modernize record keeping in the office. Since then, Glover said, all mortgage records back to 1864 have been indexed and digitally scanned. All recorder’s office documents have been scanned back to the 1960s and will soon be indexed and online as well.
“We used to have this big table for the title companies but title companies don’t need to come in anymore. They can go online.”
He said all the debt records are scanned as are the cemetery records, which he said was a challenge because “they weren’t that good.”
Also online are marriage records back to 1924 and Carson budgets back to the 1890s.
And everything in the system is integrated.
“Now you type in somebody’s name and every record we have from their birth to death will come up,” Glover said.
In the process, he said he and his staff have discovered and fixed large numbers of errors and problems with those records. One example is the search for the deed to the land beneath St. Teresa’s Catholic school. He said they tracked it by the date on letters from the church’s lawyer Paul Laxalt, eventually fining it filed under “T” for “The Catholic Church.”
He said that’s far from the only example of bad record keeping.
Marriage licenses, he said, were another problem. “We had (justice of the peace) who liked to drink and some of the licenses do things like list the best man as the bride. They really did screw up.”
Elections records are also electronic now.
When he took office, he said voters used punchcards that were counted at a state facility. Now all Nevadans use electronic voting machines but Glover said the biggest improvement is the electronic poll books he put in place. In the past, voters had to go to the right precinct station to sign in and get their ballot. Now they can go to any station in the Carson City Community Center.
“We can find you from the time you enter the door in three minutes.”
The electronic system also greatly simplify the election canvass afterward.
“Before, we had to go through all the poll books. This time the canvass took three minutes.”
He said despite the cost, all counties need to go to electronic poll books.
Glover said one of the things he’s most proud of is his part in the redistricting in 2001. When lawmakers failed to get reapportionment done, the job was turned over to District Judge Todd Russell who brought in Glover, retired Legislative Counsel Bureau Research Director Bob Erickson and Las Vegas lawyer Tom Sheets to draw the maps.
Not only did they get all four congressional districts well within 1 percent of the same population they, for the first time in decades, “nested” two Assembly seats inside each state Senate district and greatly increased the number of competitive legislative districts.
“I’m really proud of that,” he said. “It came out very well.”
He contrasted that process with the 1991 redistricting when he chaired the Assembly Elections Committee: “It was painful.”
One of the most unique issues came up recently in Glover’s role as public administrator. When Walter Samaszko Jr., a quiet-living recluse, died, the clean-up crew found boxes of gold coins worth millions in the Mountain Street home.
Glover auctioned the coins off for $6.7 million, turning more than $3 million over to Samasko’s heir in San Rafael, Calif. He said she still has more money coming but that IRS hasn’t yet signed off on all the taxes owed.
Glover said at this point, he doesn’t have plans for the future. He plans to take some time off before making any decisions.