Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Bailey and Miller vie to be next Porter County Clerk

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By KEVIN NEVERS

In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Republican Jon C. Miller and Democrat Jessica A. Bailey will vie for the open office of Porter County Clerk. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate questionnaires.

The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.

(1) Age, place of residence, occupation.

Miller: 61; Chesterton; Porter County Recorder.

Bailey: 37; Valparaiso; director, marketing and community development, Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce; business owner.

(2) Describe the Porter County Clerk’s responsibilities (75 words).

Miller: The County Clerk’s responsibilities include: administration of the official court records of all court cases with jurisdiction in our county; preparation and maintenance of permanent court historical records; processing and issuance of documents for court cases; collection, distribution and reconciliation of moneys related to court cases, subject to regular state audits; administration of all federal, state, county, municipal, and special elections for the county; and other administrative services including marriages, licensing, and miscellaneous record administration.

Bailey: The Porter County Clerk maintains vital records including: birth, marriage, divorce, child support, death records, and official court documents including: arrest warrants, protective orders, and jailer’s releases. The Clerk also serves as the chief election authority, overseeing, conducting, and certifying the results for all federal, state, county, township, municipal, special, and school board elections. Other duties of the Clerk include: collecting court costs, disbursing judgments, preparing certified documents, and generating notices for jury duty.

(3) For Miller: You are currently in your second and--under Indiana Code--final term of office as Porter County Recorder. That makes you one of three countywide term-limited office holders in this cycle seeking election to a different countywide office. Why are you seeking election to the Office of Clerk? (75 words) Throughout my over 30-year career, I have been a problem-solver and solution provider, dedicated to public service for Porter County. I believe in transforming government to efficiently adapt to changing public needs. I enjoy helping people and making their interaction with county government easy and pleasant. I believe in maintaining an efficient teamwork environment for staff and using technology to provide greater accessibility to government. I can guarantee to provide quality public service.

For Bailey: Why are you seeking election to the Office of Clerk? (75 words) I am seeking the position of Porter County Clerk to maintain and enhance the history of professionalism the office is known for, continue to make improvements ensuring efficiency and dependability. In terms of elections, upgrading the equipment is a top priority. Voters of Porter County deserve peace of mind knowing that their elections are accurate and safe. I would like to continue collaborating with leaders in a bipartisan effort to increase voter turnout.

(4) For Miller: How does serving as Porter County Recorder specifically qualify you to serve as Clerk? (75 words) Serving as County Recorder for two terms has provided me with the experience to lead and manage a county office. Like the Recorder, the Clerk maintains some of our county’s most vital information, those being court and administrative records. As Recorder, I implemented the digital recording and delivery of documents. Both officeholders maintain vital records for the public and the court system. Both also serve as members of the Porter County Commission on Public Records.

For Bailey: What skill sets do you possess which specifically qualify you to serve as Clerk? (75 words) Skill sets I have that qualify me to serve as Porter County Clerk include: a strong work ethic, administrative background, and good written and verbal skills. I have earned a master’s degree in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. I believe in hands-on leadership and have experience collaborating with local government, maintaining and developing a budget and working in the best interest of the taxpayers.

(5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate in particular why you believe yourself to be a better candidate (100 words).

Miller: My current knowledge of and professional experience with the Clerk’s office and our court system prepares me to serve as Clerk immediately. While serving as the computer administrator for the Porter County Sheriff and E911, I worked with the Clerk’s office to implement digital management systems that streamlined the processing of several records shared by our offices. Prior to that, I administered all court records for the County Jail. This required complete knowledge of the court filing system and an efficient line of communication with the entire court system. I understand the election process, having worked several elections.

Bailey: I believe in continuous improvement, for myself and organizations I am involved in. As an elected member of the Portage Township School Board, I have had to make and account for difficult decisions. Time management and prioritization allows me to serve on Board of Directors for many organizations, work a full-time job, own a small business, serve on the School Board, and still have time to be an active and engaged parent.

(6) What are the key issues in this race? (150 words)

Miller: One important issue is which candidate can provide you with the best level of knowledge and experience for the Clerk’s office? The County Clerk serves as an officer of the court, the manager of court information, and as the chief financial officer for all revenues collected on behalf of the court. It is a public service administrative office. Another important issue is local elections. The Clerk also oversees and conducts all elections as a member of the Election Board. They are responsible to administer and certify results for all federal, state, county, township, municipal, special, and school board elections. In 2017 while serving as the Indiana Recorders Association President, I was honored with their Outstanding Service Award. I also received the Recorder of the Year Award from the Association of Indiana Counties. I will serve with the same proven dedication that I have throughout my career.

Bailey: Key issues in the race include upgrading voting equipment and consolidating polling locations. I also would like to revise the Early Voting times. Many in Porter County are not able to vote early due to the limited times available.

(7) The Clerk is a voting member of the Porter County Election Board, which agreed this year to eliminate the number of precinct polling places approximately by half. The County Commissioners subsequently vetoed that move. Do you support retaining the current number of polling places or consolidating them? (100 words)

Miller: I support a voting process that provides voters an efficient, cost effective, secure, and trustworthy method by which to vote. I consider poll consolidation (vote centers) a viable option to our current voting system in Porter County. Yes, election costs can be reduced, but that is not my sole reason for consideration. I see proven evidence for improving the voting experience by employing vote centers. Several logistical steps must be met prior to implementation of vote centers. I would seek a consensus of involved stakeholders working together to ensure whether Porter County should move toward the implementation of vote centers.

Bailey: I support fiscal responsibility; while at the same time understand the importance of upholding a voters right to vote. In order to ensure that right is upheld, I support polling locations remaining within walking distance to voters, allowing those without transportation the opportunity to vote. I do believe some consolidation can take place, but not without careful, thorough consideration and discussion.

(8) If elected, what priorities would you pursue in the Clerk’s Office? (100 words)

Miller: I would review all of the Clerk’s court database systems, investigating the possible integration of legacy digital records into the new efiling computer system. The Clerk also stores hundreds of record books that can be digitally archived. As Recorder, our staff is currently scanning books in-house. I would pursue book scanning of the Clerk’s record books. Guaranteeing the perpetuity of those records is crucial. Top-level quality public service will continue to be paramount. Maintaining an effective relationship with the entire court system shall also be a priority. Assessment of the aforementioned election process in Porter County is imperative.

Bailey: If elected, my top priorities would be to work with the Porter County Auditor’s office and the State Board of Accounts to improve and update current systems that are deficient according to recent audits. I would collaborate with community and state leaders to increase voter turnout and see that our elections remain safe and secure. I would also collaborate with and build relationships within the court system, ensuring impeccable service and responsiveness to taxpayers and those that work in the court system.

 

 

Posted 10/5/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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