There were tears, and people fighting back tears, at Tuesday’s meeting of Pitkin County Commissioners as longtime Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill announced her pending retirement.
“It’s just the right time for me,” said Vos Caudill, who has served as county clerk and recorder since November 2005 when she was appointed to the countywide elected position following the retirement of 19-year clerk Silvia Davis.
Vos Caudill successfully won election a year later and has been re-elected every four years since.
“I’m old enough to retire,” she said, laughing and evading a reporter’s question regarding her age.
The retirement goes into effect in April. Commissioners are now tasked with appointing someone to serve as interim clerk for the eight months that will remain in her term. The next countywide election is Nov. 8.
Vos Caudill, who lives in Aspen, said she wants to spend more time with her husband, Robin Caudill, who is a lift operator on Aspen Mountain. She called the decision a “quality of life issue,” noting that she skis and hikes. Vos Caudill has yet to use her ski pass during the current winter season, she said.
In a letter to commissioners, she called it a privilege to serve the Pitkin County community. She said within her time in office, organizational structures were strengthened and best practices were supported through enhanced technology and appropriate legislation, “while providing excellence in customer service.”
The Clerk and Recorder’s Office “has built partnerships with community members, interest groups, vendors and our employees that allow us to deliver high-quality services, while implementing checks and balances and remaining astute to liability for the county organization and our community,” the letter states.
Vos Caudill’s office handles countywide elections, motor vehicle registrations and the recording of official public documents. In describing advances within her office over the years, she wrote: “Elections provides online registration and update capabilities, mail-ballot voting, and voter service and polling centers; motor vehicle now offers multiple online services; and recording provides e-recording and has accomplished providing all imaged and recorded documents through online search and copy capability back to 1881.”
“I’m not sure there is a harder working public servant in all of the Roaring Fork Valley than Janice Vos Caudill,” Kelly McNicholas Kury, chair of the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners, said in a news release. Prior to winning election to the BOCC in 2018, McNicholas worked as the county’s elections manager under Vos Caudill.
“If the ability to retire was determined by hours worked, Janice could have retired years ago,” McNicholas Kury said. “Janice has served our community humbly over her many decades as clerk and recorder. …She made customer service and excellence the highest standard for the departments she has led, where all members of the community are welcomed with a smile and precision.”
Also in the release, Vos Caudill said she was proud to have worked with the Colorado County Clerks Association, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and various interest groups to advance the state’s election processes and garner the “gold standard” for how elections are run.
“The highest compliment I can pay a clerk,” said Colorado Director of Elections Judd Choate, “and this pertains to [Vos Caudill], is that the entire Secretary of State’s staff never has worried about Pitkin County elections, never.
“It’s due to the leadership, knowledge and talent of Janice. …I don’t know what Pitkin County will do without her,” he continued in a prepared statement.
Vos Caudill has served on multiple task forces and committees, including: president of the Colorado County Clerks Association, as well as vice president and secretary; member, Colorado Bi-Partisan Election Commission; chair, CCCA Education Committee; and chair, CCCA Archives and Public Records Task Force.
During the Colorado General Assembly’s annual legislative sessions, Vos Caudill, along with other county clerks, annually reviewed more than 75 bills that carried the potential of affecting clerk and recorder offices.
Matt Crane, CCCA executive director, described Vos Caudill as an amazing statewide leader.
“Every clerk owes her a debt of gratitude for her tireless work to make Colorado a better place to vote,” Crane said. “Janice will be dearly missed, but we also wish her all the best in her retirement.”
In the release, Vos Caudill reflected that one of the biggest kicks of her career was when a high school student, helping as an election judge, described her office as “the happy place.”
Asked what he meant, the student explained: “When I turn 16, I register my car with you. When I turn 18, I register to vote with you. When I get married, I secure my marriage license with you. And, when I buy my house, I record it with you. These are all happy things. You’re the happy place.”
Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said Vos Caudill’s tenure epitomized great public service. Her departure, he said, will leave huge shoes to fill.
“Janice is a proud farmer's daughter and brought her prodigious work ethic to serve the citizens of Pitkin County. We congratulate Janice on her retirement and a well-earned break,” Peacock said.
Prior to her appointment to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in 2005, Vos Caudill worked for the city of Aspen. She moved to the area from Wisconsin where she worked in human resources as coordinator of staffing services for a large technical college system.
During a phone interview following Tuesday’s BOCC meeting, when pressed for another reason behind her retirement, Vos Caudill said simply, “It’s just time to start writing the third chapter in my life.”