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Each election year, KBIA sits down with local candidates to hear what they have to say on their own terms. Some of these candidates you might see on TV every day. Others might be familiar by name only, if that. But KBIA interviews them all so that you can be informed when you go to the polls in November.

Candidate Conversations: Brianna Lennon

Rebecca Smith

Brianna Lennon is the current Boone County Clerk running unopposed for reelection. She’s held office since 2018.

Samir Knox: What do people say or expect out of you, when you say you're the county clerk? What do people think that that means?

Brianna Lennon: It used to be that no one knew what it meant and I would have to explain what the position does. Now, I think in the last couple of years, it's become synonymous with running elections. And so a lot of people are like, “Oh, you must be busy all the time,” or they asked about a lot of the national news that they've seen about county clerk's offices that have had harassment or threats and things like that, and we have not had that here.

It's really, really great. And so usually, if somebody wants to talk to me about the office, it ends up being a very long conversation about how much I like working there, and how fun it is to do elections work.

Samir Knox: Is there anything you think practically is unique about working doing that job here in like Boone County that would be different than maybe at the statewide level or in St. Louis or Kansas City or Springfield or something like that?

Brianna Lennon: Yeah, I think we're in a really unique position. I think the only other county that is similar to ours is Green County, because we have a big college population. We had a clerk that was here for over 30 years that set a really high bar, and did a lot of services for voters that a lot of other counties don't have the resources to do. So voters are always surprised when they move from neighboring counties that they get sample ballots in the mail for every election, and that we have a bunch of information on our website.

And that kind of flexibility because we have investment in our elections in Boone County, and the discretion that we have at the local level. So many times people think that the Secretary of State's office has authority and directives that they can impose upon the counties and that's not true.

Samir Knox: Do you think that the expectation of someone who manages elections or works on them has changed since something like January 6, or since 2020? Do you feel like that changed at all? And if you don't have anything to say on that, that's totally fine, too, that's more of a personal question.

Brianna Lennon: No, I think it has, I think there's a lot more attention and scrutiny. The unfortunate thing is, it hasn't been accompanied by necessarily an interest in how things actually do work. There's lots of times where I get questions, or Sunshine Law requests for information and I like to invite people into the office and give people tours, and occasionally people take us up on that. But more often than not, it's like, they're paying attention to the point of wanting to make sure that I know that they're paying attention. And then when we are trying to have a discussion, they just kind of disappear. Because they don't want to have a real conversation about anything, they just want to stick to talking points.

So I think that's been a frustrating thing. Since 2020, is just trying to figure out better ways to educate people on how the process already works. So that when they come to us and say, “We want you to do XY and Z,” it is easier to say, “Well, we already are doing X, Y and Z, the law requires us to do XY and Z. Why don't you come in and see how it work?” and then start a dialogue from there.

Katie Quinn works for Missouri Business Alert. She studied radio journalism and political science at the University of Missouri- Columbia, and previously worked at KBIA.
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