Inquiry finds no fault in management of County Clerk’s office

After a contentious term in office, Cache County Clerk/Auditor Jess Bradfield has finally resigned from that post effective on June 4. He will likely be replaced in a special election by members of the Cache County Republicans to be called within 45 days.

CACHE COUNTY – Despite recent inflammatory press reports, a review by Cache County officials released Friday has found no fault with management practices in the County Clerk/Auditor’s Office since Jess Bradfield assumed that role in September of 2020.

That report, compiled by county human resources officials, refutes claims by former employees of the clerk’s office that they were harassed and unfairly treated by Bradfield.

This investigation did not identify any personnel law or county policy violations by Mr. Bradfield,” the report concludes. “No further action is recommended.”

The brief three-paragraph report was the result of a five-week investigation “ … in response to the resignation and transfer of several employees (of the County Clerk’s Office) in the past four months.”

“From the beginning,” Bradfield said, “we have welcomed and encouraged this inquiry because of the transparency it would bring. We were confident that we had acted appropriately, which has now been affirmed.”

The report stressed that Cache County takes all allegations seriously and makes every effort to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure compliance with all county policies and personnel laws.

The inquiry by Amy Adams, the county’s human resources director, involved interviewing 12 current and past employees of the Clerk/Auditor’s Office, plus reviewing personnel law and county policies and procedures.

County Executive David Zook has said that he requested the investigation in response to two written complaints about the environment in the clerk’s office and his own concerns about high turnover there in recent months.

Zook added that the personnel turbulence in the clerk’s office also caused concerns among other county employees about their own job security.

Prior to receiving the report’s findings, however, Zook had acknowledged that no one was terminated in the clerk’s office; the employees who left there did so voluntarily.

What some media sources labeled as a “mass exodus” from the clerk’s office is hardly surprising from a human resources perspective, according to Dr. Tim Gardner, the director of the Master of Human Resources Program at Utah State University.

“A change in leadership is a major factor in this type of ‘collective turnover’,” Gardner explained. “That’s the turnover rate of a group of people in a department, business unit or organization.

When there is a change of leadership, turnover generally increases among the people that report to the new manager. The longer that the previous manager was in that role, the greater the ‘collective turnover’ rate of the group supervised by the new manager.”

Jill Zollinger, the county’s previous clerk, had served in that role for 20 years.

Bradfield was appointed to serve out Zollinger’s unexpired term of office after being picked for that post in a GOP special election in September of 2020.

He campaigned for that GOP nod on a platform of promises to streamline and modernize processes in the clerk’s office. Given those pledges, Bradfield considered his selection by Cache County Republicans to be a mandate to shake things up in his new role.

“In just seven months,” Bradfield explained, “we have accomplished a great deal. The positive changes we have undertaken in the Clerk/Auditor’s Office have enriched election integrity, improved our services and made them for accessible and efficient for all of Cache County.

“We will continue to meet the needs of county residents by focusing on continuous improvement, adopting a culture that embraces change and building pride in local government.”

“Things change all the time,” Gardner observed. “There’s new competition, new challenges and new rules appearing all the time.

“For people who weren’t accustomed to changing all the time, experiencing even slight changes can feel more traumatic than they really are. That’s not faulting anybody; it’s just human nature.”

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