The Republican primary election race for Davis County Clerk is a low key battle, with both candidates agreeing it is a test of competence and ability to do the job.

The race pits incumbent Glen E. Saunders, Clinton, who was appointed interim clerk in July, and challenger Margene Isom, Layton. The two are running to fill the final two years of the term opened when former clerk Michael Allphin resigned in May.Most of the storm that arose this summer over Saunders being named interim clerk has died out.

Saunders withdrew from running for re-election to the County Commission when Allphin resigned May 31, announcing he would run for county clerk instead. When he was appointed by his former fellow commissioners as interim clerk, and Gayle Stevens, the Republican who challenged Saunders was then put in his vacant seat, critics cried foul and charged the appointments were fixed.

Saunders and the other two commissioners, along with Stevens, said no deals were cut. The allegations of political manipulation have died, although Isom maintains the appointment of Saunders was a foregone conclusion.

"I see the race as a matter of experience and background, who is best qualified to serve," Saunders said. "She (Isom) has not had the exposure and experience that I've had."

Saunders sees the clerk's job as changing dramatically after Jan. 1, when the state takes over the duties of administering the district courts. The clerk will still administer marriage licenses, passports, elections, and other duties as defined by state law.

But Saunders sees the clerk taking on additional duties assigned by the county commission, acting as a resource for the commissioners. And, as a former commissioner, he sees himself uniquely qualified to assume those duties.

Isom agrees the clerk's responsibility will change but sees it as an opportunity for a new clerk to grow with the job.

"The role of the clerk will be different after January and I feel I have just as good an opportunity to handle the new role," said Isom. She cites her managerial and administrative background in the savings and loan business, where she opened two new branches in Layton and Hill Air Force Base, and her current work as a loan officer.

That, plus the what Isom says are voters' desire for change are the key factors.

"Some unfavorable things have come out about county government, and people want a change," Isom said. "People are concerned about government in general but about their local governments in particular."

Isom admits she's not well known in the county's political circles - this is her first foray as a candidate - but she's been putting up signs and going door-to-door.

Recognition is growing, she said, and she's optimistic that Republican voters in the primary will boost her candidacy, citing the 46 percent of the delegates she polled at the county convention, compelling the runoff.

Saunders said the convention vote surprised him at first, but on reflection, he sees it as an expression of general voter dissatisfaction.