Two seek Dem nod for clerk

By Bill Colvard - bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com
Snow - Submitted photos
Thomas - Submitted photos

Both Democrats and Republicans have a choice of candidates in the primary election for Surry County Clerk of Court on Tuesday. Incumbent Teresa O’Dell and challenger Neil Brendle are facing off in the Republican primary. John Snow and Kim Goings Thomas are the candidates in the Democratic primary.

Here, we bring you a question an answer session with the two vying for the Democratic nomination for the seat.

John Snow

Have you held or run for elected office before? If so, for what office and when?

This is first time I’ve been a candidate for political office.

What specific skills and experience will you bring to the Clerk’s office?

The experience gathered as child support agent and magistrate for 25 years has given me a unique insight into the court system and the Clerk of Court office. To have an effective and efficient office, the Clerk must lead the employees and provide the highest level of public service. Education and first-hand experience with each facet of the office are of utmost importance. Knowledge of the computer systems, filing processes as well as in-depth knowledge of court proceedings will allow me to make an immediate positive impact on the office. The experience I’ve gained, making fair and impartial decisions in court, are an integral part of being an effective Clerk of Superior Court.

Why are you seeking the office of Clerk of Court? What will you bring to the office that none of the other candidates bring?

I believe that a unified, efficient Clerk Of Court office is the only proper way to manage the people’s business and that under my leadership, the staff and I will make that our primary goal. My education and 25 years of courtroom experience are unmatched by any other candidate. Presiding in an open court, hearing and ruling on complex legal issues have given me an ability to quickly understand the issues, researching legal precedent, and make a sound decision in each case that I’ve been involved with. Continued legal education after graduation from N.C. State University, at both the UNC Institute of Government and the Administrative Office of Courts has proven invaluable in making fair and impartial decisions based on the rules of law, statute and civil procedure.

What changes will you bring to the Clerk’s office to better serve the public?

Several compelling issues immediately need to be addressed regarding change within the office. My initial focus will be to implement an effective means to inform the public, legal professionals and law enforcement personnel of pending court dates. The AOC database of court proceedings has several flaws, and I will take appropriate action to correct those. Educating staff and cross-training each employee in multiple disciplines within the office will ensure a much more efficient office.

What role does the Clerk’s office play in law enforcement and the courts, and what are the consequences if the Clerk fails in that role?

More effective communications with the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies will guarantee more effective civil processes, warrant and summons service, and executions of judgments. The issue of prompt service of process is of utmost importance and I will make that a priority. Communication and technology have improved, and while mistakes occur, the worst mistakes result in the loss of freedom for citizens, and that must be eliminated.

What, if any, systems will you put in place to ensure that the Clerk’s office is adequately serving the needs of the public, the court system and law enforcement? How will you handle complaints and issues as to quality of service that arise?

An open door policy and a working, involved Clerk of Court that adheres to office schedules will result in better public service. I fully intend to be available to all citizens, and welcome any questions from the public regarding their personal experiences within the court system. The staff will have clear guidelines and mandates to help the public and ensure an efficient office. Experienced, full time staff will be available at all times to answer questions and perform their assigned responsibilities.

What role do party politics play in the Clerk’s office? Is party loyalty from your staff important to you? If you are elected clerk, how will you handle matters of party loyalty?

The Clerk of Superior Court should be bound to the same code of conduct that directs all judicial officials to be totally fair, impartial and ethical. Party politics, favoritism or friendships should never influence any court decision. The staff of any Clerk of Court should at all times be an extension of the professionalism of the Clerk and perform their duties to the best of their abilities for all citizens.

Kim Goings Thomas

Have you held or run for elected office before? If so, for what office and when?

No, I have not held or run for an elected office before. However, I have served on several boards.

What specific skills and experience will you bring to the Clerk’s office?

I have 14 years of law enforcement experience with various agencies in Surry County and 15 years with the Clerk’s office. I know from my experience working in law enforcement that you depend on the Clerk’s Office to run efficiently. The papers you serve have to be correct. The inmates that are in custody need to be processed correctly; not held in custody for extra time due to an error in the court files. Individuals do not need to be arrested because of an error in the court files. My experience within the clerks office is current. I have had the opportunity to work in a number of departments such as: civil, small claims, juvenile, jury, superior criminal and district criminal. I have also had the privilege of working at two other clerk’s offices and can bring new ideas and new ways of doing things in the office. I have good customer service skills and a desire to serve. I want to make the Surry County Clerk of Court’s office the best it can be.

Why are you seeking the office of Clerk of Court? What will you bring to the office that none of the other candidates bring?

I am seeking this office because I have a desire to make it great. This office holds important documents that affect people’s lives, and it is important to maintain those records. I bring experience. I have been an employee in the Clerk’s Office where some candidates have not. With experience comes knowledge. I have processed multiple documents that are held in this office. I want to be a “working clerk” and not depend on my staff to pull my workload. I would not expect anything from my staff that I would not do myself. If elected to serve, I will require the least amount of training to fulfill the role as Clerk than any other candidate running.

What changes will you bring to the Clerk’s office to better serve the public?

I will implement new processes that I have learned from other clerk’s offices in this state to help bring Surry County up to date. I will make sure every employee is cross-trained so that no one would be turned away if an employee is absent from work. I will be diligent to ensure that training for myself and my staff is current. I will bring additional technology to the office to make information more accessible to the public. I will work closely with other agencies to build a rapport and make operations more cohesive.

What role does the Clerk’s office play in law enforcement and the courts, and what are the consequences if the Clerk fails in that role?

The Clerk’s office is the keeper of the record. It plays a vital role in the court system. The original paperwork is filed within the Clerk’s Office. If there is an error on our end it can cost an individual unnecessary time, money and trouble. For instance, a person’s license could be revoked and someone could even get arrested for something they did not do. It is possible that an inmate could spend more time in jail than they should have or that someone could miss a court date. There is paperwork that is time-sensitive such as a domestic violence protective order. If the paperwork is not handled correctly, the order could expire and someone could be put in danger.

We affect people’s lives. Law enforcement and the court system depend on us to keep accurate records so they can do their jobs. The Clerk is legally responsible for every paper filed in that office. Surry County needs to have the most qualified person in that position, and I feel that I am the best candidate.

What, if any, systems will you put in place to ensure that the Clerk’s office is adequately serving the needs of the public, the court system and law enforcement? How will you handle complaints and issues as to quality of service that arise?

If elected, I will implement a checks-and-balance system to ensure that minimal mistakes are made. I want my staff to feel comfortable and confident in their duties. Regulations frequently change, therefore I would like for my staff to attend the additional training that AOC offers throughout the year.

Complaints will be taken seriously and I will do my best to address any concerns. I will meet with the heads of the other agencies to make sure we are operating at the highest standard possible.

What role do party politics play in the Clerk’s office? Is party loyalty from your staff important to you? If you are elected clerk, how will you handle matters of party loyalty?

Political parties should not have a role in the Clerk’s office. We do not create or change laws. It does not matter what my staff’s party affiliation is. All that matters to me is that you do your best each day. If I am elected Clerk, I will not expect people to switch their affiliations to match mine. Everyone is entitled to their own ideas and philosophies. What matters most to me is that the office runs efficiently and that employees feel they serve a purpose and are comfortable in their workplace.

Snow
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_John-Snow.jpgSnow Submitted photos

Thomas
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_profile.jpgThomas Submitted photos

By Bill Colvard

bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699