Kim Gardner joins GOP field of clerk/auditor candidates

CACHE COUNTY – The headcount of local candidates seeking to replace retired Clerk/Auditor Jill Zollinger now stands at three, according to County GOP Chairman Chris Booth.

Kim Gardner, the chief deputy clerk for Cache Cache County, predictably added her name to the list of candidates joining previously announced Chief Deputy Auditor Dianna Schaeffer and Jess Bradfield, a member of the Logan City Council.

Gardner has been serving as interim clerk/auditor since Zollinger’s unexpected retirement on Aug. 31. She has 27 years experience working in the County Clerk’s office, with 19 of those years spent serving as chief deputy clerk.

Booth explains that Zollinger’s abrupt departure from office midway through a four-year term set to end in 2022 allows the county GOP to nominate a replacement to serve out the retired clerk/auditor’s unexpired term.

Some local political observers consider the timing of Zollinger’s retirement to be suspect. If she had left office at least 75 days prior to the upcoming general election, the clerk/auditor’s position would have been added to the November ballot, allowing all county voters a voice in selecting Zollinger’s replacement.

A special election within the local Republican Party will instead make that selection.

“Per the Cache GOP bylaws,” Booth said, “only the County Central Committee members will vote at the special election. This includes all county officers, executive committee members, elected officials and precinct officers.”

Those rules mean that only 297 people will decide which of the clerk/auditor candidates’ names will be recommended for appointment by the Cache County Council.

That special election will be held at 10 a.m. at Ridgeline High School on Saturday, Sept 19.

With only a week until that internal voting, Booth nevertheless sent a message to his party’s central committee members on Sept. 11 urging them to “vet each candidate thoroughly” before casting their votes.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak in March, the normal GOP caucuses were never held during 2020. The Cache central committee members who will vote on the clerk/auditor are party leaders who were selected in 2018.

Booth said he hopes to forward the name of the GOP nominee to serve as interim clerk/auditor until 2022 to the Cache County Council prior to their regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 22.

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