BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- A court clerk who lost her bid for re-election has told her staff she won't be in the office very much.
Yellowstone County court clerk Kristie Boelter said she's preparing for a new career, and she delegated most office operations to two supervisors.
Boelter said she is still working outside the office, while caring for a sick family member. Terry Halpin beat Boelter in the June 7 primary. Halpin will take office at the beginning of 2017.
Boelter said she is working hard for her $81,000-a-year full-time salary. She said she plans to come in occasionally to make sure the office is functioning well and meet her obligations.
Boelter said most of her work involves communicating with attorneys and organizations through emails, which she can do without coming into the office.
In an email, Boelter told her staff she will fulfill her obligation for the next six months, "but I also must prepare myself for my new career."
"As each of us know, family comes first, and although you are like family to me I am not obligated to pay your bills nor do you depend on me to pay them. I must make my transition a smooth one for my family and myself," she wrote.
District Judge Russell Fagg, the district's chief judge, said he had seen Boelter's email. "I'm disappointed she hasn't been in the office very much because she's getting a nice salary, and I think we owe it to the taxpayers to make sure the job gets done," Fagg told the Billings Gazette (http://tinyurl.com/ztzo4nn ) on Thursday. Halpin worked as his assistant for 17 years.
Fagg told the newspaper that while he's disappointed Boelter hasn't been in the office as much, "her absence really hasn't affected the office. We have had problems and, unfortunately, we continue to have problems."
Deputy County Attorney Kevin Gillen said elected county officials may not be required to be in the office as long as they perform their duties.
Gillen told the Gazette elected officials can come and go as they please, and he believes the county's elected officials "put in more than enough time in my book, including Ms. Boelter."
Gillen said Montana law only requires a county officer to get permission from the county commissioners if they are gone from the state for more than 30 consecutive days, or they could forfeit their office.
Boelter said she's probably been in the office more than any other elected official during her term in office.