ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE : Granville for Clerk-Recorder

For the first time in a decade, Orange County voters will have the opportunity to vote for one person to hold the combined job of county clerk and recorder. The best candidate for the countywide post is Gary L. Granville.

Granville took a step nearly unheard-of for an elected official when he recommended that his office of county clerk be merged with the recorder's office to save money. The Board of Supervisors heeded the suggestion last year, and Granville has helped fold the clerk's office, where he supervised more than 300 staffers handling paperwork for the courts in the county, into the recorder's office. The recorder's staff registers births, deaths, marriages and property records.

Among the four candidates for the combined county clerk-recorder is the incumbent recorder, Lee Branch, who should have left office long ago and who should now be rejected by the voters. Judges concerned by his poor management of the combined office a decade ago lambasted Branch then. The supervisors broke the office in two, let Branch stay as recorder and appointed Granville clerk. The county clerk's office improved markedly; morale gained, the public received better service, the judges were satisfied.

An investigation by the county personnel department found that morale suffered in the recorder's office when Branch became involved personally with a woman who worked for him. In an unprecedented move, the supervisors this year censured Branch and recommended that the county grand jury determine whether he should be removed. The issue remains unresolved; the voters should remove Branch even if the grand jury does not take the first step.

Granville was a businessman and a newspaper reporter in Orange County before becoming an aide to a county supervisor. After being appointed county clerk, he won elections for the post in 1986 and 1990. His tenure ends in December when the post is combined. Granville has an impressive list of endorsements. His ability to get along with workers and supervisors at every level of government and his efficiency on the job have earned him the unenviable task of again cleaning up after Branch.

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