Washington Clerks gather in Friday Harbor

San Juan Island hosted the annual summer conference of the Washington State Association of County Clerks last week.

Washington State has 39 counties with 39 independently elected or appointed county clerks from across the state. This year Friday Harbor was selected as the host destination for the week-long educational conference.

According to San Juan County Clerk Lisa Henderson, the gathering is a combination of educational opportunities, review of legislative priorities for the next year, and provides clerks with information about legislation that has passed. Henderson was the legislative chair this year, so not only did she organize the event as designated host, but she also gave a presentation to the attendees.

“This year we’ve had more attendees than anyone can remember,” says Henderson. “We had 36 of 39 counties represented here. After the day-long meetings ended we were able to take a whale watch tour as part of our evening activities. We saw whales, so everyone was thrilled. Then we took the Jolly Trolley for a three-hour tour, and people loved that. We caught the sunset at the lighthouse, and did lighthouse tours.”

For Henderson, the advantage of these conferences is it provides the chance for clerks to get together and learn how other offices are working. “It’s a big networking thing,” says Henderson. “Because we are all independent elected officials, or appointed, we all do things a little bit differently. What works in King County doesn’t work in San Juan County, because in King County, you’ve got a lot of specialists so they do one thing but in a county like ours, my staff has to do all kinds of sorts of things.”

“It’s a place for us to get together and bounce ideas off each other, We figure out where we can align, and be consistent and figure out what we’re doing differently and try and hone our skills and our processes,” adds Henderson. “It’s a real learning opportunity for all of us. We then take it back to our offices and you see changes, and we get our staff all mad at us because we change everything because we learned something and we implement it.”