Joe Tirio now has two desks.
The McHenry County recorder was sworn in as county clerk Monday, marking the first day of Tirio’s tenure as the head of two major elected offices.
About 150 paces separate the two posts in Woodstock, where Tirio has plans to abolish the recorder’s office and roll all record-keeping duties under the clerk’s umbrella.
In the week before he took his oath, he put it in writing with the county that he no longer would be taking the $105,000 salary in the recorder’s office, which is set to be consolidated into the clerk’s office Dec. 1, 2020.
He talked with the Northwest Herald about some of his plans and vision for his new job.
People, processes, technology
There are three areas Tirio plans to prioritize, and he described those as “people, processes and technology.”
“The people part gets to whether or not you have the right people with the right skills to execute,” Tirio said. “Processes gets to whether you have well-documented processes for those people, and technology is providing those people with the tools.”
Under the leadership of Mary McClellan, the McHenry County Clerk’s Office has been marred during several elections.
In November, tens of thousands of early votes were not counted in the final tallies of races in McHenry County. After McClellan fixed the problem, the outcome of the District 5 McHenry County Board race changed, giving Woodstock Democrat Carlos Acosta a seat he thought he lost.
In 2016, McClellan’s office ran into similar election troubles that led the Illinois State Board of Elections to probe top-to-bottom problems that plagued that year’s primary.
Tirio said his goal is “operational excellence.”
“I’m not casting any aspersions on the staff [in the clerk’s office],” Tirio said, “[but] the outward performance has left something to be desired. There is a lack of confidence in the clerk’s office.”
Tirio said he already has been in contact with election systems vendors ahead of the elections next year.
Having two offices may seem unusual. Not to Tirio.
In a past life, Tirio spent years as a technical director at the company that now is known as AT&T. He had one office in the Chicago Morton Salt building, a second in San Diego, as well as third in Detroit.
When he moved to the human resources branch of Aon Hewitt, he worked with people as far away as India and China.
“I’ve managed people around the planet,” Tirio said. “I’ll get two desks for a while. I’ll be traveling between them.”
In Tirio’s vision, he sees the future clerk’s office divided into three departments: elections, taxes and records.
While he’s spending most of his time over the next year in the clerk’s office, Tirio said day-to-day operations in the recorder’s office will be handled by Chief Deputy Recorder Heather Spenard. She earns $83,000 in salary and benefits.
Tirio will earn $131,000 in salary and benefits.
“We’ll have a standing meeting every day from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.,” Tirio said. “She’ll catch me up on things.”