Moffat County Clerk-elect Lila Herod rejoins office staff after 8-month absence
There is something visitors coming through the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s Office have said to Craig resident Lila Herod that she has never heard before.
It is something Herod said is fulfilling to know.
“They say, ‘It’s good to see you back here where you belong,’” she said. “That’s nice. It is good for me to see them, too. I do feel back at home.”
The last eight months have been a mix of emotions, said Herod, the now county clerk and recorder-elect.
In April, Herod, then the county elections supervisor, resigned from her position so she could remain eligible as a candidate for clerk and recorder.
Her employment and candidacy were at odds, according to the federal Hatch Act, a law that restricts the political activity of people employed by agencies that receive federal money.
Herod was informed about provisions in the Hatch Act and contacted the U.S. Office of Special Counsel for an opinion.
The OSC reported that her candidacy was a violation of the Hatch Act based on her work in acquiring a federal grant to fund improvements at the Hamilton Community Center, which is used as a polling place.
She was given the choice to withdraw from the election, or resign from her position, which she had held for more than 20 years.
Herod ultimately decided to take her chances, remain a candidate and quit her job in hopes voters would reinstate her in the clerk’s office after November’s general election, she said.
Herod started working again for the clerk’s office in the motor vehicles department Nov. 23, she said. Being back in the clerk’s office after an eight-month absence was a feeling she said she greatly enjoys.
“When I came back (after) being yanked out of my position, it was like, ‘Yes, I am finally back doing what I have been trained and educated to do,’” she said. “So, I did feel a big relief being back.”
Dealing with the Hatch Act and deciding to leave her job made for a “really challenging year,” Herod said.
At the time, she said she felt like a rug had been pulled out from under her.
Herod wondered, “who would have ever dreamed” that she would “be the one to turn things upside down” considering no other candidates had been affected by the Hatch Act before this year’s election cycle.
“It was nothing that any of us expected,” she said. “But, it happened. It was like, ‘Oh well, sorry about your luck.’”
But, those feelings didn’t last long.
Within a few weeks of stepping away from her job, Herod and Craig resident K.C. Hume, who withdrew his bid for county coroner due to the Hatch Act in February, participated in helping to pass a state resolution changing the law.
The resolution was a House joint resolution aimed at limiting the Hatch Act’s scope and was sponsored, in part, by then state representative Scott Tipton. Tipton is now a Congressman-elect to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Herod said she hopes Tipton can help usher the resolution to the federal level and hopefully change or modify the Hatch Act in the future.
“Maybe he will really get where they are looking at it federally,” she said. “I think it has been addressed federally, but compared to the budget and immigration, it’s not very significant. But, maybe something will happen.”
Most of all, Herod said she is hoping that something positive comes out of the negative experience she had with the Hatch Act.
“I think it will,” she said. “At least if anything, it made the counties and our state aware of what happened. Everybody, including the Secretary of State was totally stunned that it would impact the election office.”
After stepping away from her job, Herod said she was amazed by the amount of community support she received throughout her candidacy.
“So, you never know,” she said. “Sometimes you think it is going to be the end of the world, and it ends up being just fine.”
One example of that support was finding a job at Napa Auto Parts as a parts delivery driver.
“Gosh, who knew being the delivery driver was going to be such a good time?” she said. “But, you have to have fun doing whatever you do. Make the best of whatever happens to you — that’s what I tried to do.
“With that kind of support, how can you complain?”
When asked how it is going to feel to have the Hatch Act behind her and step into the office and the job she has had her eye on since starting in the office, Herod was quick to answer.
“Ask me in January,” she said with a laugh.