The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Sandi Boardman retires from Clerk and Recorder's Office after 44+ years of service


January 10, 2018

Sandi Boardman retired at the end of December. She worked in the Clerk and Recorder/Assessor's office for 44 years, 23 of those years as the elected Clerk. A drop-in retirement reception is set for Friday, January 12 from 2-4 pm in the lobby on the second floor of the courthouse. The public is invited to stop by and greet Sandi.

Until her retirement on December 31, Sandi Boardman had more years of service than any other current Blaine County employee. The Zurich-area native started as a part time employee in the Clerk and Recorder/Assessor's office during her senior year of high school, working after school and during school breaks. She explained, "Dave Jensen, my Chinook High business teacher, contacted local businesses and set up work opportunities for his students to get on the job experience. I worked in the Clerk's office and helped the regular employees with all sorts of tasks while I was still attending high school."

After graduating high school on June 1, 1973, Boardman was hired by then Clerk and Recorder Cora Musgrove and became a full-time employee in the office. She was appointed Deputy Clerk and Recorder in the fall of 1978. She was later elected Clerk and Recorder/Assessor and served in that capacity from January 1, 1995 until she retired at the end of December, 2017. Boardman served 21 years as a full time employee in the office, 23 years as the elected Clerk and Recorder and one year as a part time worker while a student.

Asked about the duties of the Clerk and Recorder's office, Boardman said, "Well, there's not really a job description for the position." She explained that most citizens know of the office through recording some official document, registering to vote, getting a copy of a birth certificate or doing the paperwork for an absentee ballot. As far as documents, the office files and tracks everything from deeds and mortgages to powers of attorney and military discharges. The Clerk's office oversees all municipal, state and federal elections held in the county. Many of the Clerk's duties are required and defined, especially where election are concerned, by state and federal rules and law.

In describing some of the office's lesser known duties, Boardman said, "Many people don't realize that in counties without a financial officer (Blaine County has no financial officer) the Clerk and Recorder is the county's accountant. Our office processes all the bills to be paid on behalf of the county, tracks all county-owned fixed assets, helps the commissioners put together the annual budget and files the county's annual financial statement with the state."

The Clerk's office, by law, must record all proceedings of the board of commissioners and maintain files of any records having to do with raising or spending money by the county. In the Montana Code Annotated, the last duty on a long list required of a county Clerk and Recorder reads, "keep other records and books and perform other duties that are prescribed by law or by rule or order of the board." In case something was overlooked, that last requirement is a catch-all.

Boardman reflected on changes in the Clerk's office she's seen in four plus decades: Sandi Boardman said a major change she saw over the years was the increased number of regulations, restrictions and requirements that were put on local governments. She recalled, "When I started with the county in 1973 the county commissioners were part time and worked only the first week and third Monday of each month." Additional regulations have required more staff and more time from the commissioners to deal with them.

The Clerk and Recorder is responsible for a large number of regulations related to elections, many coming from the federal government. Tammy Williams, a Deputy Clerk and Recorder, said she now spends a majority of her time working with elections to make sure all the relevant conditions are followed. Also, revised accounting standards from the state and federal levels require more time to track and report the county's financial position. The legal changes expanded the duties of the Clerk's office.

As would be expected, technology also changed how the office operates. Boardman said, "When I started working in the mid-1970's all the accounting records, the indexing of the recorded documents and issuing birth and death certificates were done by hand. From all hand work we progressed to a main frame computer, then desktops allowed more streamlining of the handling of accounting data." Even how records are stored and retrieved changed. She said, "In the 1970's we put recorded documents on microfilm, by the late 1990's we began to scan documents to a tracking software that allows us to retrieve documents electronically using our desktop computers."

One change she did not get to see was the ability to conduct all elections by mail ballot. Only three states currently do mail-only balloting. Boardman said, "Most of the election officials believe mail ballots would reduce costs and raise voter turnout. There have been several attempts to pass legislation in Montana that would allow mail balloting." Actually, the number of voters using absentee mail ballots has tripled statewide and doubled in Blaine County in the past decade. She believes the voters are ready for a more efficient and economical way to handle elections.

Asked what was most rewarding about the job, she said, "When we would have the outside auditors review our books and have a clean audit. That told me we were doing our job properly." She also mentioned how rewarding it was to work with a cadre of election judges in every community over the years. She said, "Those relationships were very rewarding, some of the judges stuck with me the whole time I was in the Clerk's office."

Professional contacts helped keep Clerk's office up-to-date

Boardman was active in professional groups in Montana that represented Clerk and Recorders' interests. She said her involvement assured she knew about future changes and how to deal with them. She added, "Through our professional associations we had a network we could reach out to for help with problems we encountered." In 2000 she was the President of the Montana Association of Clerk and Recorders. She added, "That was a lot of work but I learned a lot and made contacts with people who were helpful later."

From 2001 to 2007 she served on the Montana Association of Counties (MACo) Taxation and Finance Committee. That committee monitored internal operations of the Association and advised the legislature on proposals that would affect counties' financial functions. She was the only member of the committee who was not a county commissioner.

In 2003 she was appointed by Secretary of State Bob Brown to the Montana Election Technology Advisory Council (METAC) and has served on this committee until retirement. The committee advises the Montana Secretary of State, the chief election official, about ways to improve MT-Votes, the statewide voter system. Boardman was the committee member who represented small counties.

Retirement brings 'mixed feelings'

Boardman said she has mixed feelings about retirement. "I feel fortunate and blest," she added, "to have served the residents of Blaine County. Over the years I had a great group of employees who were dedicated and worked hard. I'll miss seeing and greeting the citizens who came to the office and, especially, the election judges who served with me for so many years."

Family was a major motivator for Boardman to retire. She has one daughter, Jennifer Metcalf, and two grandchildren-Jacob, a fifth grader at Meadowlark and Jaxton, born just two months ago. Boardman explained, "I'll be baby sitting the two boys while Jennifer and her husband, Jason, are at work. I'll keep Jaxton with me and Jacob will come to my house every day after school." She'll also be spending more time with her mom and dad, Ted and Gerri Lenhardt who live at the Grande Villa in Chinook and with brothers Danny, of Chinook, and Curt who lives in Vancouver, Washington. Boardman added, "For many years I put my job first, now I'm going to put family first."

Tammy Williams, currently a Blaine County Deputy Clerk and Recorder, was recently appointed by the county commissioners to fill Boardman's remaining unexpired term. Williams, who has worked 33 years in the Clerk's office, said, "This will be a change for me as the scope of my job will be different, but I'm very happy to begin my new duties." Williams begins her new responsibilities on January 1.

Public reception set to honor Sandi Boardman

The public is invited to a reception to honor Sandi on Friday, January 12. The event will be held in the foyer in front of the Clerk and Recorders Office on the second floor of the Blaine County courthouse. The drop-in reception will run from 2-4 pm.

The "Journal" thanks Sandi Boardman for her 44 years of service and wishes her a happy retirement spoiling her grandkids.


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