Peg Perl thinks the public generally sees the role of the Denver Clerk and Record as the office responsible for overseeing elections.
That, of course, is true. But Perl, who’s running for Denver Clerk and Record, wants residents to know the job is important for the functioning of daily government. A lot of its work is done behind the scenes, handling public records, licensing and land records.
Perl is an attorney who works as an adjunct teacher at the University of Denver and policy consulting on a contract basis. She’s spent 15 years working areas she thinks are relevant to the clerk’s duties, including working in voting rights, campaign finance reform and public records access, which she sees as the three main pillars of the clerk’s office work.
Perl grew up in Arizona and has been in Denver since 2010. She attended Arizona State before heading out to Washington to attend Georgetown Law School. She returned to the West after spending some 10 years in the Beltway.
“That’s where I started to do government work,” Perl said. “Before I came back to Colorado, I actually had a career in DC where I worked as an attorney for the Federal Election Commission doing campaign finance work.”
She previously worked in political and campaign finance consulting as a senior counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch and worked for the U.S. House Ethics Committee.
Perl submitted paperwork for her run in January, becoming the first candidate to formally declare their intent to fill the open Denver Clerk and Recorder position. Current Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson said last year she wouldn’t be seeking reelection.
Since announcing, only one other candidate, term-limited City Councilman Paul Lopez, has announced his candidacy for the position. Former Denver Director of Elections Amber McReynolds is eyeing a run as well but hasn’t formally declared.
Perl is especially excited about the new rules the incoming clerk will work with, including ones chosen by voters after last month’s election. That included Referred Measure 2D, which gives the clerk more flexibility for filling the positions.
“The other part of it is it said we’re going to create two new appointed positions and the charter is not going to specify the duties of those positions,” Perl said, meaning it could allow the new clerk to add a new position that could be added later. “It can shift between now and 20 years from now.”
Another new program approved by voters: The Democracy for the People Initiative, which will establish a public funding element to the city’s municipal elections. The initiative won’t be available to candidates until 2020.
“To me, that is a huge part of what the next clerk has to do and I am really excited to do that because I have done campaign finance regulation,” Perl said. “That would be one of the major things I would be expecting any clerk to have to focus on but I am especially excited to focus on.”
There will need to be an enforcement and accountability system for auditing in case something doesn’t go as planned. She feels prepared to handle that due to her past work.
“For me, it’s about bringing that experience which I used under the values of transparency and accessibility and accountability to everything that the clerk’s office does,” Perl said.
While she said Denver has one of the best elections offices in the country, she does have an idea for making Denver’s ballots a little less bulky. This year, the city had its biggest ballot yet, which cost a little more money.
Her idea is relatively simple: Instead of having multiple languages in the same ballot, you can allow voters to pick their preferred language and receive that ballot. Denver ballots are printed in English and Spanish due to a federal mandate.
“There’s best practices out there already to make sure that voter confusion is minimized, but it’s up to the voter’s choice,” Perl said.