Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Democrat Pam Fish and Republican Karen Martin vie in Clerk of Circuit Court race

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By KEVIN NEVERS

In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Democrat incumbent Pamela Mishler Fish and Republican Karen M. Martin will vie for the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court. 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.

Fish: 49, Valparaiso, Porter County Clerk.

Martin: 55, Valparaiso, self-employed.

(2) Describe the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s responsibilities. (75 words)

Fish: The Clerk of the Circuit Court is responsible for maintaining the records of the county. We also process small claims, traffic tickets, warrants, protective orders, evictions, wills and estates, guardianships, criminal cases, tax warrants, civil cases, child support, bond money, mental health cases, perform marriages, and oversee elections.

Martin: The Clerk of the Circuit Court’s responsibilities include but are not limited to record keeping and financial duties for the Courts regarding civil and criminal matters. Civil includes marriage, divorce, child support, adoption, name changes, estates, personal liability issues, and collection matters. Criminal matters include offenses of misdemeanors and felonies such as traffic, theft, burglary, domestic abuse, manslaughter, and others.

(3) What are your qualifications for the office? (75 words)

Fish: I graduated Indiana University with a degree in public and environmental affairs, for 16 years was president and CEO of Midwest Environmental Systems, and was a member of the Union Township School Board. As County Clerk, I’ve spent the past two and a half years studying best practices in other Clerk’s Offices statewide. In September I received my diploma from the Association of Indiana Counties for 60 credit hours of county government training.

Martin: My past experience in the legal field includes legal assistant, law office manager, and instructor at the Paralegal Institute of NWI.

As a past member and president of the Porter County Council my detailed knowledge and background would assist me in reducing the financial impact to the taxpayers and residents of Porter County.

Being a small business owner, I understand the need for efficient transactions and fiscal responsibility.

(4) To Fish: Why are you seeking re-election to the office? (75 words)

I wish to seek re-election to the Clerk’s Office to finish projects that I have started and to also implement other programs that I believe will help us become even more efficient.

To Martin: Why are you seeking election to the office? (75 words)

After in-depth conversations with the legal community I felt their concerns were valid and needed to be addressed. Delays and errors were substantial. An individual who has legal, management, and county budget experience would be a positive direction for this office. Only after researching the department and evaluating my own qualifications did I feel that I would be the best candidate for the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

(5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself a better candidate? (125 words)

Fish: I do not believe in negative campaigning so I will not comment on my opponent. I have proven that I am committed to professionalism, public service, efficiency, non-partisan government, and saving tax dollars. In two and a half years we have automated the Accounting Department in-house saving taxpayers $102,000, received $14,000 in grant money for voting booths, opened the offices during the lunch hour, reduced undistributed child support by 70 percent, began electronic imaging of court documents saving time, paper and space, and automated 1099s and tax warrants. I have attempted to operate the Clerk’s Office as a business. We are in the business of serving the public efficiently, effectively, and professionally.

Martin: Evaluating issues, researching and arriving at positive resolutions are my areas of expertise. Believing that a hands on learning and approach allow individuals to feel a sense of confidence which is necessary to accomplish a job well done. My background in the legal field and my attention to detail will assist me in helping others understand their need for detail and efficiency. Using my management skills will help motivate individuals and create a positive time management environment which will effectively increase productivity and reduce errors. Years in county government will assist me in accomplishing the best possible product for the least amount of funds.

(6) What are the key issues in the race? (125 words)

Fish: There are several key issues in this race. First, which candidate has a proven track record in improving the operations of the Clerk’s Office? Second, who is most qualified to serve in this capacity? Third, who has done the most research regarding best practice relating to Clerk’s Offices around the state? Fourth, which candidate has been able to find ways to save taxpayer dollars? Fifth, which candidate has shown a commitment to researching the laws and how they relate to county government?

Martin: Job responsibilities and duties are of the utmost importance in this race. Difficulty in doing one’s job well occurs when they do not address the issues at hand. Complacency occurs when the individual in charge performs that job in such a manner that management is not an intricate part of the daily interaction. Responsibility for one’s performance reflects through their employees. The Clerk of the Circuit Court’s actions affect every individual in Porter County. If documentation is not filed in a timely matter delays will occur. If a warrant is not issued or not pulled someone may be arrested that shouldn’t be and someone who should be arrested isn’t. If support cannot be paid or found, a parent cannot pay their bills or buy food.

(7) If elected, do you anticipate making staffing changes in the Clerk’s Office? Why or why not? (50 words)

Fish: If I am re-elected, I do not intend to make staffing changes in the Clerk’s Office unless something occurs which forces me to do so. I am blessed with an incredible, hardworking, professional staff that works well together and is committed to excellent public service.

Martin: Initially, I would train the individuals in the office so that they are given the opportunity to do their job with new management. It would seem unreasonable to assume they are unable to do the job. Elected officials have some appointed positions.

(8) Do you regularly attend meetings of the Porter County Council and Porter County Commissioners? Why or why not? (50 words)

Fish: All department heads and elected officials are required to attend various County Council and County Commissioner meetings. I attend meetings which I believe may have an effect on the Clerk’s Office, the courts, and elections. I also attend meetings involving topics of county government which interest me.

Martin: I attended most all of the County Council and County Commissioners meetings for nine years and still keep informed on a regular basis by either attending or reading the minutes on-line. It is important to be aware of information that will affect you.

 

Posted 10/6/10

 

 

 

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