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What the Heck Does a County Clerk Do, Anyway? with Ashley Reichert
Episode 7221st March 2023 • Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz • Fuzz Martin
00:00:00 00:18:46

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This week on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz, we welcome Washington County Clerk Ashley Reichert for an enlightening conversation about her role in our community. With the upcoming nonpartisan election around the corner, Ashley sheds light on the responsibilities of a county clerk, how she got started working in local government, and the importance of civic engagement.

In addition, we discuss the new office hours for the Washington County Clerk's Office, as well as the Register of Deeds and County Treasurer's Offices. Starting April 3, 2023, these offices will transition to a "4-10s" schedule, opening from 7 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Thursday, and closing on Fridays. Listen to learn more about these changes and how they'll impact our community!

It's an engaging episode that highlights the vital role that local officials like Ashley play in keeping Washington County running smoothly.

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Fuzz Martin 0:08

Hello boys and girls, it's me Fuzz. And this is a show affectionately called Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. Why affectionately? Because it's rarely 15 minutes. It's usually either longer or shorter, but I like to play the average. Hope you're having a great spring. Spring actually just started yesterday as the show comes out. So that might be a little aggressive. But I hope the rest of your spring is great. I could really use a day of 65 degrees and sun for my mental health and sanity. However, I do like that it's still light out when I get home from work around 7pm during the workweek. Speaking of later hours this week, we're speaking with Washington County Clerk Ashley Reichert. It was recently announced that the Washington County Clerk's Office, along with the Register of Deeds and county treasurer's offices, will be open from 7am till 5:30pm, Monday through Thursday, starting on April 3. And while I was exploring this topic, I also realized that not a lot of people know what a county or municipal clerk does. So with that, here are 15 minutes on, what the heck does a county clerk do anyway, with Washington County Clerk Ashley Reichert on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

Fuzz Martin 1:32

Ashley, thanks for coming in today. So we're embarking on another spring election here in Wisconsin, and I thought it'd be fun to explore exactly what a county clerk does. Yep. And to be completely honest with you, your husband, Justin, who's your biggest publicist, told me that I should reach out to you and talk to you about the upcoming changes to the hours at the clerk's office. And we'll talk about that coming up. But first, let's learn about you. So how did you get started in local government?

Ashley Reichert 1:59

was a stay at home mom until:

Fuzz Martin 3:21

Wow. All right. So did you ever think that you would be working in local government when you were younger?

Ashley Reichert 3:26

So this is a question that always makes me laugh, because, I mean, I've always had an interest in history, my family history, genealogy, history of the community, and politics as well. And when taking several either civics classes or history classes in high school, we were required to volunteer for our local government agencies. And I ended up in the clerk of courts office. And I remember filing paperwork at that time and thinking to myself, this is something I never want to do. And actually, my intention was to become a marine biologist, which is totally opposite of what I'm doing now. But there's a plan for everybody. And that wasn't wasn't it for me, and I, I truly love what I do now. And I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity and it all worked out the way it did.

Fuzz Martin 4:15

My youngest daughter wants to be a marine biologist, and she already has a University of Hawaii sweatshirt that she wears. That's where she's going. Oh, she's seven.

Ashley Reichert 4:25

Oh, it's so exciting.

Fuzz Martin 4:26

Yeah, maybe she'll end up working for you. Yeah, maybe.

Ashley Reichert 4:29

Or maybe she'll be the county clerk at that time. Yeah, I had even applied for the program at Carroll College, which was two years here in Wisconsin. Two years in Hawaii. Oh, really? Okay. Yeah. All right.

Fuzz Martin 4:41

Good to know that that's the path. So we'll have to start planning in about eight years. Yeah. So both you and your husband Justin are very involved with a number of different community and volunteer organizations, what compels you to volunteer,

Ashley Reichert 4:56

so we live in the community and we feel like it's extremely important. written to give back to the community that we live in and to teach our children to do so as well. It just makes for better humans in the world. I mean, it's important to help others in need, and show that to the community as well.

Fuzz Martin 5:14

Yeah, absolutely. And what organizations are you currently volunteering with.

Ashley Reichert 5:18

So I am volunteering with the Casa Guadalupe organization, that's probably the organization that I'm involved in now and have been for the longest time, I started volunteering for their Fiesta Latina event, and then was asked to be on their board. And right now I serve as the vice president of their board. And then I also am on the board for the youth and family project. And the most recent board that I started volunteering for was the tower Heritage Center, which that one is extremely exciting, because I do love history. So that's great.

Fuzz Martin 5:53

And, like me, you don't say no to anybody.

Ashley Reichert 5:56

I have a hard time with that.

Fuzz Martin 6:00

It's just one of those things. When you see somebody needs, like, I can help out here. Here's what I'm gonna do. On top of all that, you're a mom, how do you balance all of that?

Ashley Reichert 6:08

Yeah, I have four kids. And I thought to myself, I have no idea how I balance it all. But But I actually do I have an awesome support system. My husband is absolutely amazing. And no, he did not tell me to say that. But we are a great team and help each other out because he's also involved in different community organizations. And so we kind of just balanced each other out with that.

Fuzz Martin 6:33

So let's talk about your job for a moment. And I'll start with the question that's likely going to be the title that I put in this episode. Sure. Ashley, what does a county clerk do?

Ashley Reichert 6:42

Oh, man, that's a tough one. Because every day is different. There are so many different things that even when I ran for office, I had absolutely no idea was all a part of the job. When you think of a clerk or a county clerk, or municipal clerk, for that matter, you think of meetings and minutes. And so that is a portion of my job, very small portion at times. But I also oversee all of the elections for the county, we issue marriage licenses, we accept passport applications, we handle dog licensing and providing that to the local municipalities. We assist in aiding the municipalities in information regarding annexations we, oh, my gosh, it just keeps going on and on. So I feel like I could just keep going. But that's the gist of what we do. Yeah.

Fuzz Martin 7:32

So then you have employees that report in to you too. Is that right?

Ashley Reichert 7:36

Yes, I do. I have an awesome team. I have three full time employees, and one part time and when limited time but we actually have the mailroom and printing in our office. So that accounts for one part time and one full time employee. So we handle all of that for the county. So central reproductions printing, and then handling of the mail. And then I also share one position with the county board, which is a legislative clerk position. That kind of is the liaison between county employees and staff and then the elected body of the board.

Fuzz Martin 8:12

Okay, yeah. Because there's a lot to handle. There's what how many County? board supervisors are there now?

Ashley Reichert 8:17

We have 21. 21. So we had 26, that we after the last census went down to 21.

Fuzz Martin 8:23

Yeah, but there's a lot of a lot of people to manage it. Yeah. Talk to Yes. This position that you're in is up for reelection every four years then right? Yes, yes. When you first decided to run like, what was that? decision making process like is it's a lot of work, running for office, especially county wide.

Ashley Reichert 8:40

Yes. And I had no idea how much work it was at that point in time. But I worked at the sheriff's office at the time and was reached out to by two different individuals, and one being Josh Holman, the county executive now and the other being che Shambeau, the city administrator for West Bend. And both had thought I would be a great person for that, that role. And the prior county clerk actually was retiring at the time. And so I thought about it, we talked about it, prayed about it. And I realized that I could have taken the easy way which would have been, you know, no, I'm happy where I'm at. I love the sheriff's office love to I worked with him, it was a great experience. And that would have been easy. You know, I knew that that was stable and in a great position for me. But if I never tried, I would always have that in the back of my mind. Like what if What could I have brought to the County Clerk's office to the county? What could I have improved upon? If I didn't take that leap? And I'm so grateful that I did.

Fuzz Martin 9:41

Well, we're all grateful for a typical spring election like we have now. So the nonpartisan elections and when there's a primary when do your election responsibilities start ramping up?

Ashley Reichert 9:52

So for a year like the one we're in now, so an odd year where there's just the spring election? And that's guaranteed. And then the spring primary if needed. Work actually begins probably in October, October and November. So we're in my office, very busy prepping all of the materials and legal notices and information for the local municipalities ahead of the election. And then we collect all of the data from the municipalities. And that's when we start compiling the ballot. And actually, this is the first year and actually the February primary was the first election where I was actually programming the election in house, rather than contracting it out with Dominion as we had forever in the past. So that was something new for this year. And, you know, a lot more went into it, but beneficial in itself as well.

Fuzz Martin:

What do you find to be the most challenging part of being the County Clerk most challenging,

Ashley Reichert:

{robably just dealing with lots and lots of different personalities? You know, we're dealing with elected officials, I don't actually find it that challenging, I guess it's more of a positive challenge. I enjoy, you know, different things that we have to work through or researching statutes and finding fixes. And if you go at everything with a positive attitude, doesn't it's not necessarily a negative challenge, but it's bringing out something good from it. Yeah. Problem solving, and coming up with solutions. Exactly.

Fuzz Martin:

What do you love about the position

Ashley Reichert:

Probably what you just mentioned, problem solving and making things more efficient. Actually, when I started in planning in parks, that was probably one of my my most favorite things was changing the way things had always been done, which was the saying, or, or is still a saying that some people like to say, you know, we've always done it that way, my least favorite saying, because you can always change things to make them better and more efficient, and things like that better service for the public. And so that's kind of what I've done along the way, you know, planning a park Sheriff's Office, and now in the clerk's office, just doing things either in our office that I have direct control over, or working with our state legislators to make changes that make things more efficient for the public. Like we we worked really hard to have statewide issuance and the ability for couples to Apply for a Marriage License and in any county in the state of Wisconsin, rather than the old requirement where you had to apply where you live. So it just things like that making things easier making government work better for the people that were meant to serve. Is is truly one of my favorite things.

Fuzz Martin:

That's really good segue. So recently, news came out that Washington County will be changing the hours of its clerk Register of Deeds and county treasurer's offices, to 7am to 5:30pm, Monday through Thursday, starting on April 3, meaning that you guys closed on Fridays, right? So what was the reasoning behind the change?

Ashley Reichert:

So the 4-10s, has actually been something that's been a goal of mine. And on my goal board, probably since 2017, our office has been 8am to 4:30pm. That's been in our county code. That's how it's been forever, which, you know, maybe was great at one point in time, great hours for employees. However, more and more people being in the workforce, and kids being in school, you can't get to government offices, then without taking off, you know, taking vacation time, which me being a mom, that's hard to do. You don't want to pull your kids out of school, you don't want to waste your vacation time to have a passport appointment, or just stop and pay your taxes or whatever it may be. So we actually did a, we did a pilot program last year. But before that, even pre COVID. I used to offer one evening, a week. So it was Thursday nights, I believe, I would work from 4:30 to 7p or something like that. And people would come from all over. I think at that point, it was we were trying to figure out if people were coming to the Hartford office for the evening hours because of its location and you know, being in close proximity where we better serving the people of that area. So they wouldn't have to come to West Bend. But we realized very, very quickly that people were driving from out of county to come to us because we were the only place that they could apply for a passport at night and not have to take vacation if they even were able to Yeah, so then last summer from June and through the end of September. We offered Monday through Thursday 7am to 5:30pm. I had two team members that worked those hours and actually we saw a 43% of all of our appointments before 8:15 And after 3:45 Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. So it was pretty significant. And actually, someone had reached out on social media asking me how many appointments were on Fridays, and I just calculated that that it was about 13%. So even with us being closed on Friday Is it doesn't have 20% That would have been Yeah, yep, exactly. And, and so we even found to last summer that people were only coming in on Fridays because we didn't have the capability of serving more in the evening or in the early morning.

Fuzz Martin:

Now, suppose that people would take off on Fridays easier, probably if they take off to go do those things.

Ashley Reichert:

Exactly, exactly. So it truly has been such a blessing that we're able to offer that better service to the public getting, like I mentioned earlier, with couples being able to apply for a marriage license anywhere in the state of Wisconsin, we have couples that come from all over because they can actually get an appointment with us outside of their normal working hours.

Fuzz Martin:

Do you put them on the "I Do" wall if they're not from Washington? Yes.

Ashley Reichert:

Everybody can sign the "I Do" wall, yeah. Yeah.

Fuzz Martin:

We've talked about passports, marriage licenses, what other kinds of services are affected by this with the Register of Deeds and the treasurer's office as well?

Ashley Reichert:

Yep. So the treasurer's office paying of taxes, you know, that can actually be done online. But there are still people that can, can and want to come into the office. So that's something that can be done outside of normal business hours, in addition to Register of Deeds and the real property list, or they're able to issue marriage certificates or certificates, death certificates, anything with filing of deeds, or research regarding properties can be done now outside of normal business hours.

Fuzz Martin:

Do you foresee other counties or many municipalities following your lead here?

Ashley Reichert:

So as of right now, we're in an 18-month pilot program, I think people are waiting to see how that goes, how the public utilizes the service outside of the normal business hours or, or maybe we realized that we do need Fridays or later evenings or something like that. I did share the information with all of the counties in Wisconsin and I did receive several that were curious about what the outcome would be. And I think local municipalities are in that same same position, wanting to see how it goes for us before making any true changes.

Fuzz Martin:

And again, these go into effect on April 3, right? Yes, April 3. All right. Perfect. Well, Ashley, thank you for coming in. Thanks for all you do, and I will let you go get ready for the election, which is, you know, I got a quick couple of weeks away, but for like 20 days away from today, we're recording. But for you. That's not many days.

Ashley Reichert:

It's coming fast.

Fuzz Martin:

So thanks for all you do. And thanks again for coming on the show.

Ashley Reichert:

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Fuzz Martin:

Thank you again to Washington County Clerk Ashley Reichert for joining me on today's episode of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. Again, the Clerk's, Register of Deeds and County Treasurer's offices will be changing their hours to 7am till 5:30pm. Monday through Thursday, starting April 3. But hopefully that means you don't have to take off work to get some work done at the county. That's a win win. If you asked me, you still have an opportunity to help out this show by filling in my listener survey, go to, and it will bring up a Google survey again will be to the right place. And for doing so I'll give you a brand new 15 Minutes with Fuzz sticker if you'd like one. And I mean it when I say brand new they're actually brand new. It's not like I'm giving away old stickers that I've peeled off the things though if he asked me to I would peel the sticker off my MacBook just for you. That will do it for Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. Catch all the episodes at And be sure to join me for another new episode. Next Tuesday. And every Tuesday, right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.




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