by nathan oster
Serena Lipp spent the night of the primary election at her mother’s house, surrounded by her family. Fitting, she says, because her victory in the four-person race for clerk of the district court wouldn’t have been possible without them.
“You don’t do this kind of thing alone,” said Lipp, of Shell. “I think of all the family and friends … we all worked so hard this summer. We put in a lot of effort. We worked as a team. I’m so thankful for all of them. What an amazing journey it has been.”
Lipp finished 1,281 votes to earn the Republican nomination for the offices. With no Democrat in the race, she’s got a clear path to a four-year term in the November general election, where she will be unopposed.
Diane Nuttall, currently the chief clerk in the circuit court, finished second with 806 votes, followed by Deb LaBudda with 792 and Angela Cook with 227.
Lipp was the top vote-getter in seven of the county’s 13 voting precincts. Her margin of victory was largest on her home turf of Greybull and Shell, where she received a combined 522 votes compared to 198 for Nuttall and 138 for LaBudda. Lipp also won in Lovell, although the margin was just nine votes over Nuttall.
The rest of the county was every bit as evenly split, as LaBudda — the only one of the three candidates with experience in district court — was the top vote-getter in Basin, with 198 votes compared to 157 for Lipp and 135 for Nuttall, as well as in the precincts of Otto, Hyattville, Manderson and Deaver.
Nuttall carried one precinct, Byron, where she finished with 53 votes to Lipp’s 45 and LaBudda’s 30.
Lipp said she was excited to get to work.
“This is something I’ve dreamed about, something I’ve wanted to do for the past eight years,” she said. “I’m ready to serve. I’m excited about it, and graciously thankful to the voters of Big Horn County for their support and for all of the people who helped along the way.”
Lipp said her first priority upon taking office will be to make sure it’s running efficiently and has the respect of judges and attorneys. She has every intention to keep LaBudda on staff, calling her “a real asset to the office,” and said that she’d spoken earlier in the evening with Nuttall, who congratulated her and wished her well.
“Our campaign was a positive one,” she said. “All of us went in with nothing to lose, knowing that only one of us would come away with something to gain. I think that made our campaign very cordial. We were there for each other at all the forums and parades, which was great — considering we were all going for this office.
“We all knew that only one of us would get it … it was almost like we were supporting each other along the way.”
Lipp said she believes her 32 years of office experience will serve her well, noting “I have a background in everything I’m going to need to run that office and I’m going to do my best for the people of this county.”