County Recorder outlines vision, department changes at town hall

Adrian Fontes, the new Maricopa County Recorder, introduces himself and recounts the story of his campaign to the group at his Downtown Phoenix Meet and Greet on Feb. 23. (Anya Magnuson/DD)

Adrian Fontes calls on Monica Cooper, who asked the second question at the Downtown Phoenix Meet and Greet hosted by the Maricopa County Recorder's office. Cooper shared her experience as a person with a visual disability at voting booths and asked about future accommodations. (Anya Magnuson/DD)

Bruce Braley, a retired high school math teacher, questions Adrian Fontes about the quantity of people who were forced to vote provisionally in the last election. (Anya Magnuson/DD)

Jaclyn Boyes, right, laughs at an anecdote told by County Recorder Adrian Fontes. Boyes, 34, is a poll worker and member of the League of Women Voters. "I support Adrian and the good work he's trying to do to bring people to government," Boyes said. (Anya Magnuson/DD)

Meet and Greet attendees listen to questions for the new Maricopa County Recorder, Adrian Fontes. The event, which was scheduled from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m, ran late as more community members asked questions. (Anya Magnuson/DD)

George Garcia asks the first question at the Downtown Meet and Greet hosted by the Maricopa County Recorder's Office. Garcia, who works closely with disabled communities in Phoenix, was concerned about disability access at polling places. (Anya Magnuson/DD)

Adrian Fontes, the new Maricopa County Recorder, takes questions at his Downtown Phoenix Meet and Greet event. He took office six and a half weeks ago and has been making an effort to bring the people into the government through events like this around the county. (Anya Magnuson/DD)

Newly-elected County Recorder Adrian Fontes outlined major changes for his department at Thursday night’s meet-and-greet event in downtown Phoenix.

About 50 people gathered at the County Recorder’s Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) building, located just south of the warehouse district to hear Fontes and his staff provide updates regarding the massive reorganization of what Fontes called a “complex and flexible” department.

One change Fontes discussed was his decision to implement a new Community Relations Department.

“We need to return to face-to-face relations and human beings in government,” Fontes said.

He said under the previous leadership, the department had no communication to the public, and was not serving its residents adequately.

“I am a citizen servant … the department does not belong to me, it belongs to you,” Fontes said. “I wanted to remove the layers of bureaucracy.”

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In addition to the new team that will lead the way in making sure people are engaging with the county recorder, the department is developing new programs to increase access to polling places across the Valley.

This includes braille printers at polling places on election days, working with the city to have free public transportation on Election Day and translating the entire county recorder website into Spanish.

Consistent polling locations were among the issues raised at the meet-and-greet event.

“We have a problem (with people trying to vote) depending on if they live across the street (from polling places) or not,” said Mike Schiller, Chief of Staff with the Maricopa County Recorder.

With thousands of people commuting to work in different cities everyday, a growing concern is the possibility of submitting a ballot at any polling location across the Valley.

Schiller explained that due to governmental agencies affecting different areas of the county, this would be difficult to accomplish.

“There are different government agencies tied to specific locations,” Schiller said. “If you live in Tempe, and you happen to work in Glendale, you don’t live there so you wouldn’t be getting a ballot, because ballots are based on statute.”

Besides the downtown Phoenix event, Fontes had two other meet-and-greet events in the East and West Valley.

In addition to these speaking dates, the county’s community relations team is hosting a five election debrief events to focus specifically on election questions in the community. The office estimates Fontes has now hosted over two dozen speaking events.

The next community elections debrief event will be hosted on March 6 at Mesa Community College.

For more information, visit the County Recorder’s website or call (602) 506-3535.

Contact the reporter at Edder.Diazmartinez@asu.edu.