HELENA — Lewis and Clark County treasurer-clerk and recorder Paulette DeHart – currently the county’s longest-serving elected official – has announced she will step down from her position after 27 years.
DeHart informed the county commission that she will be retiring as of Sept. 25. She told MTN she’s been honored to serve in the position, but that she’s ready to spend more time with her husband and family.
“I just think it’s time to let someone else try their hand at it,” she said. “I’m going to miss it, but it’s time to stay home.”
DeHart says she has spent the last 38 years working in the City-County Building. She started with various positions in the treasurer’s and clerk and recorder’s offices.
“When I first started, I was handwriting tax bills; we were handwriting them in triplicate with carbon paper,” she said. “When I first started, motor vehicles was a calculator, a typewriter and carbon paper.”
In 1993, she was appointed to her current office to fill a vacancy. She won a full term in 1994, then was reelected six times, most recently in 2018.
DeHart’s office oversees a wide variety of county functions. It includes five departments, administering elections, motor vehicle titling, property tax collection, official documents and county financial reporting.
County Commissioner Susan Good Geise praised DeHart’s skill and professionalism.
“Paulette is one-of-a-kind,” she said. “She serves as a role model for a lot of clerks and recorders and treasurers around the state.”
The commission will be responsible for appointing someone to serve the remainder of DeHart’s term, through the end of 2022. DeHart said she gave advance notice to give them time to conduct that process.
Though DeHart was elected as a Democrat, state law says the process for filling the vacancy will be nonpartisan.
Commissioners will have their first discussions about the appointment process at their regular meeting Thursday morning. Geise, the commission’s chair, said they still have decisions to make about the form of that process, but that she wants to make sure it is open.
“I expect we will have a very public process,” she said.
DeHart thanked the people of Lewis and Clark County for supporting her over the years. She said it has been a challenging job, but a rewarding one.
“I’m going to miss all the people – not only the staff, the wonderful staff in all five of those departments, but the customers, because you truly do work for the customers,” she said. “I will miss them a lot, but it will be nice not to be responsible.”