New county clerk settling in

Jonathan McLean

After two full weeks on the job, new Monroe County Clerk and Recorder Jonathan McLean is enjoying his new position. 

“Every morning I wake up, and I’m excited to come in and learn more,” the 36-year-old Columbia man said. “There seems to always be an issue that comes up every day, so I like coming in just to see what’s going to happen.”

McLean, a Republican, won the county clerk seat in the midterm elections, receiving 65.2 percent of the vote. The seat was vacated by the retirement of longtime county clerk Dennis Knobloch, also a Republican. 

McLean ran because he finds the county clerk’s role particularly interesting due to how much governmental business must come through that office, including elections. 

“We’re a very important office in that a lot of offices and departments rely on us to do their jobs,” he said. “I don’t think it’s boring at all. There’s always something going on.”

For the last year, McLean has learned exactly how much happens with the office, as Knobloch gave McLean monthly reports on the responsibilities of the position. 

Knobloch has also helped McLean throughout the transition period.

“I call him frequently,” McLean said of his predecessor. “The last couple of weeks, I call him at least every other day with a list of questions. He has been phenomenal. He will explain them to me and let me know where to go.”

That on-the-job training has been helpful for the former owner of an insurance business, as McLean has had to learn about the procedures and technology of the county clerk’s office. 

He said the easiest responsibility to pick up has been the work related to the election, as he is especially passionate about that.

“I love the election process,” McLean said. “I’ve always been the guy to wait up all night to see the results, so I’m excited to now be the guy who is reporting it.” 

The most challenging duty has been as his other role as Monroe County Recorder. 

“I’m still learning that, and that side of the business is where we have more need for new technology,” McLean said. 

On Dec. 3, his first full day, McLean got thrust right into those responsibilities at the Monroe County Board meeting. 

More than 20 resolutions were heard at that meeting. A typical meeting sees only a few. 

“It took a little bit to keep up with all of them and recording them,” McLean noted. 

Even with the learning curve, McLean said the process has been going well so far. In addition to Knobloch, he said his own business experience has helped him in the new role, as he already knows about bookkeeping and dealing with regulations.

“Having that insurance background, we deal with so many details,” McLean added. “With the details that are required here, it’s very important that we get it done right the first time. Going back and trying to fix mistakes is time consuming.”

Once he has settled into the role, McLean said he plans  to address what he sees as the office’s most pressing need: newer technology. 

The software it uses, for example, needs an upgrade.  McLean said Knobloch knew that but did not replace it so the next county clerk could have his or her pick.

The upgrades will also directly impact the public, as McLean has already started putting more documents online, fulfilling a campaign promise. 

Additionally, he said he plans to seek new voting equipment for the 2020 election. He described that as another one of his top priorities. 

The process to obtain that new equipment will include researching ways to get funding and holding public comment forums next year to hear from the public their preferences. 

But, thanks to Knobloch,  not everything requires McLean’s attention. 

“There’s a lot of things here that don’t need to be fixed,” he said. “So, we’ll just leave those alone.”

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James Moss

James is an alumni of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mass communications and applied communications studies. While in school, he interned at two newspapers and worked at a local grocery store to pay for his education. When not working for the Republic-Times, he enjoys watching movies, reading, playing video games and spending time with his friends.
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