Stuart and Martin County primary results

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Hometown News is providing candidate profiles, so that our readers can become familiar with those who would like to serve county residents.

The following two candidates will faceoff for 19th Circuit Clerk of Court

Michelle Miller

1. Because of COVID-19, on both a local and national scale, residents have endured a very trying 2020. What are some of the ideas you'd like to see implemented to ensure the safety of your constituents moving forward? 

 This year has proved to be challenging on so many levels!  Every day we are faced with additional challenges, new rules and guidelines, and revised regulations.  By enabling several separate but connected elements, we are able to address constituents concerns, and provide safe, secure interactions between the public and the staff.  We must enable policies and procedures that allow staff to clearly understand their roles and duties.  Provide training and communicate our procedures so that both parties understand their rights and responsibilities. Then we must make sure that we monitor our progress and evaluate regularly to ensure that the elements are all functioning properly.   The safety and security for all constituents and staff must be a primary concern.  This requires a full-time dedicated Clerk who will be present daily to address problems and concerns.   As your next Clerk, I am committed to you and the many needs of our community!

2. What would you change from the current Circuit Court Clerk's priorities, and what would you keep?

We need a Clerk collaborating on ideas with the entities that use the office regularly so goals are more easily accomplished.  As Clerk, I want an office that develops those partnerships throughout the community to better serve our residents.  Relationships within the judicial system, other County entities, the judges, and the office staff have not been nurtured and these relationships are in desperate need of repair.  With a strong and full-time clerk working to develop these partnerships and to constantly improve processes, we can save more of our tax dollars.  There are so many employees that would love to have a “career” instead of a job until something better comes along.  Through positive leadership, I will foster the potential for each of these individuals and help them to build a future by always building them up and giving them the tools they need to go further in their careers. 

3. Why do you feel you are the best candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court? 

I want to move the Clerk’s office forward utilizing technology to enable a seamless flow throughout the criminal justice system.  We deserve a full-time, dedicated clerk, focused on reducing wasteful spending to help reduce our tax burden and who is transparent in dealing with every tax dollar.   As a former business owner in this community, I know that every dollar must be spent wisely.  I am a team builder and garner support from across the County and State. Support from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike, because this position, like life itself, is not about party but about people. When it comes to people, I can rebuild those relationships that have been neglected and destroyed. Unlike my opponent, I am not a career politician,  I am a mom, a veteran, a businesswoman, and I’m running because we can do better. 

Joe Smith, incumbent

1. Because of COVID-19, on both a local and national scale, residents have endured a very trying 2020. What are some of the ideas you'd like to see implemented to ensure the safety of your constituents moving forward?

Protecting hard-working taxpayers is the foundation of my service as Clerk. COVID-19 made us distribute our workforce so we could ensure that the public received court services with limited interruption. We have kept the community informed regarding changes of hours or ways they can continue to receive Clerk's office services. Marriage licenses are now available online along with additional recording services. We host free webinars to teach people about the current state of the office with an upcoming event on evictions and foreclosures via Zoom on Wednesday, August 5th at 2 p.m.

2. What would you change from the current Circuit Court Clerk's priorities, and what would you keep?

The mission of the St. Lucie Clerk's office is to provide amazing customer experiences and operational excellence from caring and knowledgeable professionals who are financially accountable. Currently, the customer satisfaction rating of the Clerk's office is 98%. Our office continues to exceed state reporting standards and we are #1 out of 67 counties in the state for our collections rate among felons and #2 for misdemeanor and criminal traffic collections so there remains room for improvement. We continue to earn national and international awards for our website, for our transparency in sharing financial information with the public, and we have earned the Best Places to Work award for 10 consecutive years under my leadership. Our office has saved or made citizens $56 million and counting. I would like to increase cashback opportunities for the taxpayers by getting the county to pay more of its bills via electronic payments.

3. Why do you feel you are the best candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court? 

Experience matters. For the past 12 years, I have created a record of saving and making taxpayers money. I have served our state as president of the association for court clerks and comptrollers. I am certified to do this job by the Florida Supreme Court.  I am respected in our community and by my clerk colleagues throughout Florida. I have served our community well. With the team I am proud to lead, I have protected hard-working taxpayers, promoted financial accountability, and demonstrated excellence in government. I implemented a community-led internal audit committee and have instituted survey tablets to receive customer satisfaction information in real-time. No previous clerk considered the public as a partner in governing in the ways that I do. If honored by the voters to continue my public service, I will continue to support you as you have supported me.

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