Office sought: Superior Court clerk
Political Party: Republican
Occupation: insurance field representative
Office sought: Superior Court clerk
Political Party: Democrat
Occupation: current Superior Clourt clerk
Why did you decide to run for office?
McAllister: My prayerfully considered decision to run for office came about after being involved with the leadership in the Rome TEA Party for two years. I believe that my efforts within the TEA Party were not enough to help my adopted county. The county commissioners and those running for vacated seats were all fine people, I am not qualified to be sheriff, but I am qualified to be Clerk of Superior Court.
Penson: As a lifelong resident of Rome and Floyd County, it has always been, and continues to be, my heart’s desire to serve the citizens of Floyd County and I have been successful in doing so in many different capacities. The idea of Clerk of Superior Court actually entered my mind approximately 10 years ago, however, with an ailing husband at the time, I knew that my devotion needed to remain with my family and it would not be fair to the citizens if I could not give it my all. Not to mention the fact that I was well aware that many others had ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Joe Johnston during his long tenure as the Clerk. In 2008, almost three years after my husband’s passing, I learned that Mr. Joe Johnston was retiring and I immediately knew that my time had come, the time for me to declare my intent to seek the position. I knew that my unique and extensive work and volunteer history was further evidence that I was not only educated, but highly qualified as a candidate for Clerk of Superior Court. Here we are, almost four years after being initially elected and I have proven time and time again that I can and will do whatever it takes to manage the Clerk’s office.
What are your qualifications for this office?
McAllister: I meet all the state mandated qualifications for this office and more. I have real-world experience in problem solving, customer service and management. I arranged mutually beneficial business arrangements between over 200 trucking companies and shippers. I have been a national marketing manager for a software company. I am currently working in the insurance industry preparing replacement cost estimates for major insurance companies. I am a partner in an IT company which affords me resources to improve some of the technical issues the Clerks office is facing.
Penson: Prior to serving in the position as your Clerk for the last four years, I had over 29 years work experience as a records keeper for the Floyd County Schools, working with Federal, State, and local budgets. I was heavily involved in student records and in staff development record tracking. I also had over 25 years work experience in direct customer service where I received multiple awards through the years for exemplary customer service. I am a graduate of GA Highlands (formerly Floyd College) and a graduate of Shorter University (formerly Shorter College) where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. I am also a graduate of Jason Free School of Realty.
I have worked with countless community and civic organizations in Rome and Floyd County at various capacities and currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Noon Optimist Club, Treasurer for Woodmen of the World Lodge #20, and serve on the Personnel Committee for Shorter Avenue Baptist Church.
What changes will you make in the next four years if elected?
McAllister: The bulk of needed changes are real improvements on the technical side. My experience in that area is vast and widespread. Management of the fine staff there will be improved.
Penson: As the voice of experience I fully know and understand that changes in the Clerk of Superior Court Office are directly related to the budget. I have made many major changes in the Clerk’s Office even with an 8.5 percent budget cut and with 2.5 frozen positions. I have been very fiscally responsible and have managed to come in under budget every year since taking office.
The Clerk’s office no longer prints county record books at a cost of about $110 each at a rate of about 1 to 2 books per week. Records are filed electronically now saving taxpayers thousands of dollars each year.
I am leading the way to electronic filing of all property records in Floyd County dating back to 1833. This is a massive project that was bid job of $68,000; however we are doing the entire project in-house with no additional costs to the county or taxpayers.
I intend to provide a service that allows property owners a means to securely check and know if there have been any inquiries made in relation to their property ownership and who the inquiries were made by. This will be a free service and should be available in the near future for Floyd County property owners.
With that being said, I intend to continue moving forward with all the changes/upgrades we are in the process of implementing and it is my goal to upgrade the Civil/Criminal case management software to a much needed, more desirable, user-friendly, efficient program with upgradable capabilities.
What do you think could be done to improve operations in the office?
McAllister: Efficiency is key in this area. The key to efficiency is improving working relationships. Good working relationships breed efficiency.
Penson: There is always room for improvement in any operation.
When we get the new case management system for Civil/Criminal records we can expand the online services, such as e-filing, and provide improved conveniences for our clientele while protecting privacy and at the same time implement a disaster recovery plan for records, which currently does not exist. Linking e-filing to our website will be another added convenience as we continue our improvement efforts. Electronic filing of all property records will very soon become reality.
The Clerk of Superior Court is a state constitutional officer who is responsible for the filing and safekeeping of the tidal wave of official paperwork that washes through the courthouse each year. It includes everything from land and property records to civil and criminal files, adoptions, garnishments and trade name registrations. When funding becomes available, the majority of these services will become easily accessible online.
How will you handle the increase in the McAllister: caseloads with a shrinking budget?
McAllister: That is a problem that public servants. as well as private companies are facing on an increasing level. There are ways to be fiscally conservative by increasing information technologies, reducing the need for paper and ink and it is my belief that the clerks in that office have ideas on how to make their own job more efficient if only they had ... I’ll have to be in that office to finish the answer to that question.<
Penson: Since entering office, the eighteen clerks and myself have managed to cross-train everyone and handle an increased workload to date with two and a half frozen positions and with an 8.5 percent overall budget cut since 2009. When re-elected I intend to continue our efforts to work smarter not harder. I have managed to make many positive contributions to the Clerk of Superior Court’s methods of recording, processing and maintaining mounds of priceless records for Floyd County.
Bottom line is: Clerk of Superior Court is a huge task. This is a non-partisan responsibility. My strong work ethic and philosophy of serving ALL people with equal respect has been applied from day one. I have proven to the citizens of Floyd County that I am up to the many daily challenges the Clerk’s office faces. I have helped the legal community function in a much more efficient manner and most importantly, I have been a good steward of tax dollars for Floyd County.