The roots of public service run deep for Carrie Bird.
With more than a decade under her belt as Clearwater County’s clerk/auditor/recorder, Bird also draws strength from a family steeped in elected service.
“My great-grandfather, Leroy Southwick, served as county commissioner in Nez Perce County, my grandfather, C.A. Cuddy, served as a county commissioner in Clearwater County and my father, Charles Cuddy, served on the Idaho State Legislature as state representative for District 7,” she said. “My cousin, Barb Fry, is the current elected treasurer for Nez Perce County, and my brother, Brad Cuddy, is currently serving as school board trustee for the Lewiston School District. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to serve my county and community, as my family members have.”
Craig Clohessy: That is quite a history.
Carrie Bird: It’s something that does run in the family and I guess we’re just kind of called to it.
CC: Talk a little bit about your years with Clearwater County.
CB: I came to work at the county in ’91 ... as a part-time deputy in the court. ... After I was there for two weeks, I was asked to go full time. ... For the first six months I worked as magistrate clerk. ... At that time, Jeannie Johnson was the District Court clerk and she moved to the treasurer’s office to become the treasurer for the county. ... I was moved into the District Court clerk position and I worked in that position until ’96. I really liked working in the court and enjoyed working with the clerks. I actually went to school at LCSC (Lewis-Clark State College) as a legal assistant and had prior to that time worked for a couple of attorneys in town.
I worked there for about six years and then my kids got a little older and the court kind of has time constraints on when you need to be there because you can’t leave a courtroom when it’s in session. That became a little bit frustrating at times, so I transferred to the auditor’s recording office so that I could get away a little more and attend my children’s school functions. ... I started working in February of ’96 in the auditor/recorder’s office.
I never anticipated being the county clerk. And then Robin Christensen, who was my predecessor clerk, decided that she was going to move down south near Boise and she was going to resign as the clerk. The party had to appoint someone and they asked me if I was interested. I struggled with whether or not I was interested because I still had children that were in school and, you know, going to be in college shortly. It kind of paralyzed me a little bit thinking about not having a job because I had to be appointed and then run (for the office in the next election). ... I had a lot of people that talked to me about public service and that if I tried it and I wasn’t successful that I would be able to find something else to do. I dove in with both feet, became the county clerk and then ran for the position and have really enjoyed working as the county clerk and working with all the elected officials and the public in general.
CC: Your position encompasses quite a few different duties. The most public aspect of the job is running elections in Clearwater County, like you just did Tuesday. But what’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
CB: The challenging part I think is just making sure you’re meeting all the deadlines you have because there are different deadlines for every department that you have and making sure ... things are happening that are supposed to be happening and that we’re actually following the laws that we’re supposed to follow within the statutes.
CC: You have other talents as well outside of the public sector. I understand you’re in a choir?
CB: I belong to the Orofino Community Choir. I’ve belonged to that for, wow, several years. ... I sing the alto part in the choir. ... We usually put on two concerts a year, one in the spring and one right before Christmas, usually the first weekend in December. ... I’ve been singing ... since I was in elementary school, and my elementary school teacher encouraged me to sing my very first solo when I was in the sixth grade. ... I’ve done a lot of individual singing for different occasions and helped with a lot of fundraisers singing with small groups and doing music. I have enjoyed that a lot. Music gives me an outlet to relieve stress.
CC: Anything else you’d like to add?
CB: I’ve certainly had the opportunity to work with a lot of wonderful people in this position and a lot of people who have given me a lot of great advice over the years, from county commissioners, treasurers to predecessors that I’ve worked for. I like working with the public. As a matter of fact, sometimes I miss being at the front counter and just being able to work with the public.
Clohessy is managing editor of the Lewiston Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2251.
Title/Occupation: Clearwater County clerk/auditor/recorder
Family: James S. Bird, husband; son, Jesse Bird; daughter-in-law, Krissy Bird; grandson, Kalen Bird; daughter, Christa Bird; parents, Chuck and Judy Cuddy; father- and mother-in-law, James D. Bird and Gerri Bird.
Education: Graduated from Orofino High School; associate degree as legal assistant, Lewis-Clark State College
Work History: Worked for Dale O. Cox, attorney; Robert E. Kinney, attorney; WestOne Bank; Vic Walters, DDS; and Ford Hydro Limited Partnership prior to going to the work for Clearwater County in 1991 as a deputy court clerk, 1996 as a deputy auditor/recorder and was appointed as the county clerk in 2008, and then elected that November.
Hobbies and Interests: Kayaking, whitewater rafting, fishing, camping and gardening.