The future Carson City Clerk-Recorder must ensure the integrity of elections, both candidates for the nonpartisan position agreed during a forum at the Brewery Arts Center on Monday night.
“I learned first and foremost, I’m a compliance officer,” said Stacie Wilke-McCulloch, a native Carson City resident with 14 years of experience in the gaming industry and a current Carson City school board trustee.
Her opponent, William Scott Hoen, has lived in Carson City for five years and has 30 years of experience in the title insurance industry. Hoen was a poll worker in the last election.
“They don’t have confidence in the election system,” Hoen said of constituents he’s met during the campaign.
The forum was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Northern Nevada in partnership with Sierra Nevada Forums and AAUW Capital (NV) Branch. The Nevada Appeal cosponsored the forums. Anne Macquarie moderated.
The first question asked each candidate if they accept the results of the 2020 election. Both Hoen and Wilke-McCulloch said they accept the results.
“We need to clean up voter rolls to restore voter confidence in our system,” said Hoen, citing thousands of ballots in Clark County allegedly mailed to inactive voters.
Wilke-McCulloch said she believes the 2020 election was fair and safe but added, “maybe unlike people my opponent hangs out with.”
After the forum, Hoen told the Appeal he didn’t think Wilke-McCulloch’s personal comment was appropriate. He said he was chairman of the Carson City Republican Party but resigned to run a nonpartisan campaign.
Other questions asked the candidates how best to train poll workers and if mail-in ballots – instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic – are beneficial to the democratic system.
Hoen said as clerk-recorder, he would reach out to “everyone who wants to participate.” He added that poll workers should be trained in voter signature verification.
Wilke-McCulloch said she’d work to ensure poll workers feel “secure and safe.” She pointed out the Secretary of State has a program in place to train people.
Regarding mail-in ballots, Hoen said some people are uneasy about them, especially the signature verification process.
“I want to make sure it’s done correctly,” he said.
Wilke-McCulloch said the military has used mail-in ballots with little or no problem.
“We’ve been doing it in the military for over 100 years,” she said.
Another question raised an unsubstantiated claim that some poll workers are being trained to challenge voters. Both candidates, however, denied that’s happening.
“I think the poll workers get along great and communicate,” said Hoen.
Later asked to specify what “cleaning up voter rolls” meant, Hoen said 1,000 people a month are moving in and out of Carson City, and the clerk-recorder’s office needs to keep up. He said local offices must follow strict state rules and regulations.
“They don’t delete voters, but move them to inactive status,” he explained.
Wilke-McCulloch said local clerks perform that maintenance monthly, and the secretary of state’s office checks for deaths and duplicates daily. She said if a mail-in ballot comes back undeliverable, the officials send a postcard to check status and then follow up with a call.
One of the final election-related questions concerned hand counting versus electronic counting.
“I think hand counting makes us go backward,” Wilke-McCulloch said.
Hoen pointed to Nye County where hand counting has been adopted “to put everyone’s fears to rest.” For Carson City, however, it would be a challenge and expensive, Hoen said.
Not every question was election related. Candidates did get a chance to explain how they would balance other clerk-recorder responsibilities, like marriage and notary duties and maintaining public records.
“I know how to multitask very well,” Wilke-McCulloch said.
Hoen wondered if the Board of Supervisors would have to separate clerk-recorder job functions at some point.
“It’s got a full plate,” he said, adding he’s a “hands-on” manager.
The general election is Nov. 8, and in-person early voting is Oct. 22- Nov. 4.