Washoe County Clerk Amy Harvey retired last week in the middle of her fourth elected term. She swore in Nancy Parent, appointed by the County Commission to replace her. Harvey said the recent death of her mother and her husband's retirement made her realize that she should put the working part of her life behind her and enjoy the people in her life. Her only immediate plans are to travel to New Haven to see a grandson take a master's degree from Yale.
What do you think about what has happened to politics over your time in office?
I think it's become very abrasive. I think that people are not able to articulate their differences without reducing it to a personal level, which it shouldn't be.
Did that start happening with ministerial offices like yours?
Not so much, but we're still on the outskirts of it because I observe it when we do the meetings with other bodies, like we have the meetings [group]—which aren't meetings—with Reno/Sparks, Washoe County, the school board. I just feel like it's just not an honorable profession like it used to be. People said what they meant, and they stood for something, and now it just seems to be so partisan. It's not any more about helping people in our community. I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated with it.
When you first ran for the office, or while you were serving, did you develop goals you wanted to accomplish in the office and were you able to do them?
Yes, but it took a lot longer than I thought it would. … Changing bureaucracy takes a lot of work, and it's not easy to do. And it does take persistence, and it takes communicating with people and trying to get them to see your vision.
What kind of goals did you have?
Well, one of my first goals, of course, was to try to address the usurpation of the county clerk's job by the courts. [First in a court case, Harvey v. Second District Court, and then in legislative action, Harvey tried to reverse actions by the courts that had gradually shifted the clerk's authority to the state district courts.] That was one of the biggest issues I went in about. But some of the other things I was able to accomplish was to create a more customer-friendly atmosphere. In other words, people will come in, they have to go through government agencies to get what they need, to follow the rules. And in order to accomplish that, I felt when I went in that there was more obstruction than there was assistance. And so I was able to turn my office around to be more assisting to the customers, which is the citizens. So I feel like I accomplished that. We have a saying in my office: “Do everything you can to help the customer achieve what they need.”
Were there any lingering bad feelings from the battle with the judges?
Possibly. I do think possibly, yes—on both sides. I do think there were.
Did it make it difficult for you to go ahead and do your job?
No. No, because the two branches of government are so separate. … The only difficulty was probably in space issues at the courthouse.
When you get up in the morning for the next couple of weeks, are you going to have trouble adjusting to the fact that you don’t have to go anywhere?
I don't think so. So far I feel like I'm on vacation. So it doesn't feel like I've retired. I don't know. Maybe you can ask me that in a couple of weeks.