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New Lake County clerk, recorder appointed, new election administrator hired

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LAKE COUNTY – Katie Harding steps into her new role as interim Lake County Clerk and Recorder Oct. 28, when the county commissioners make her appointment official. 

She replaces Paula Holle, who retired recently after 31 years in county government. Harding also occupies an office once held by her husband’s grandmother, Ethel Harding, a well-known state senator and longtime county employee, who served as clerk and recorder for 18 years. 

Since it’s an elected position, the office will appear on the ballot when the term expires in two years.

Harding, who has held the job of county election administrator for the past four years, won’t move very far when she steps into her new job. The clerk and recorder’s office, located on the main floor of the courthouse, handles a variety of essential paperwork, including birth and death certificates and property deeds. It also houses the county plat office, which maintains surveys recorded in Lake County and tracks the history of property transfers. In addition to the clerk and recorder, the office employs two deputy clerks and a plat director. 

Harding grew up on a dairy farm near Pablo (her dad is state senator Dan Salomon). She graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman with a degree in family and consumer sciences and a minor in psychology. 

When she and her husband, Trenton, first returned to the Mission Valley, she worked as a unit director for the Boys and Girls Club and then as the club’s director of operations.  

Harding will do double duty as clerk and recorder while overseeing the election through Nov. 3. She is looking forward to new challenges, but adds, “I’ll probably be more excited once this election is over.”

Lake County hires new election administrator

Toni Kramer, Lake County’s new election administrator, stepped into her new job Oct. 13 in the midst of a major election. “It feels like I’m drinking from a fire hose in a way,” she said. 

Fortunately, she’s learning the ropes from predecessor Katie Harding, who was appointed Lake County Clerk and Recorder.  

The office has “wonderful systems in place and great procedures to follow, so that’s been going very well,” Kramer said in a recent interview. 

She and her husband, Frank, moved to Polson last spring after spending summers here for the past three years. She’s originally from the Billings area, where the couple farmed for more than three decades. She also owned a weight-loss center for several years. The couple relocated to be closer to their adult children, who live in Polson, Missoula and Washington State.

Kramer feels her abilities to run and manage businesses, along with her experience in bookkeeping and employee management, will serve her well. 

“After putting down our new roots here, I wanted a position where I could serve the community and make some lasting relationships, so this was a very attractive position to me,” she said.

While plunging in during a general election can feel overwhelming, Kramer also gets a firsthand look at the inner workings of her new workplace. 

“I’m thoroughly impressed with the systems that are in place, the organization, the counting and recounting and tracking of ballots,” she said. 

“With so much publicity about this election, I think a voter could have doubts as far as how a ballot is handled and processed,” she added. “But in this short time I’ve been here, I’ve learned that voters can feel very comfortable that Lake County is really top notch as far as what they’re doing to ensure that these ballots are handled properly.”

She looks forward to having time post-election to learn more about the process. She also appreciates the fact that her predecessor will be just upstairs. 

“I feel very fortunate that Katie is still going to be here as clerk and recorder,” said Kramer. “She’s been very generous in offering ongoing help for any problems that come up in the future.”

 

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