By Kendra Hennis
In a special four-part section, I will be interviewing all of the candidate hopefuls vying for the office of Circuit Clerk. To ensure complete fairness, all of the same questions were asked to the candidates before any interviews were released and I have given their exact responses on the matter. Please enjoy and don’t forget to vote on March 17.
Where are you from?
“Currently I live in Tuscola, but I am from the Villa Grove area.”
What is your current occupation?
“I am a Deputy with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department and the K9 handler.”
What is your educational background?
“I have my Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice.”
What do you know about the court system?
“I have a lot of experience from working at the Sheriff’s Office for over eight years. I have taken Prisoners to court so I am familiar with the experience. I have written search warrants and applied for arrest warrants. When it comes to the Circuit Clerk’s office, I don’t have any experience working in there, but all of the papers that go through the Circuit Clerk’s office I serve.”
What do you understand to be the duties of the Circuit Clerk’s office?
“Even though I worked at the Sheriff’s Office for quite some time, I went in and talked to Julie Mills before I decided if I was going to run or not because I really didn’t have a lot of knowledge about everything that she does do, which is a lot. It seems like everything that goes through the Courthouse at some point went through the Circuit Clerk’s office. I know that the office holds all of the criminal files for felonies, misdemeanors, traffic citations, family cases, and wills. People are also able to make payments there.”
Do you have any experience that relates to the office of Circuit Clerk?
“Yes. I don’t have any experience working in the Circuit Clerk’s office but we kind of work alongside them. If she (Julie) issues something it goes to the Sheriff’s Office and we enter it and serve it.”
Why did you decide to run for this position?
“There are a lot of reasons that I decided to run. Basically, this opportunity was presented to me and I went and talked to Julie Mills to make sure this is something that I would like to do. I spent two days with her and really enjoyed it and I am excited about the possibility of taking over the office. The way politics are going right now, I just felt that I wanted to start to get into politics. I feel like the way things are going, we need people who are Republican and Conservative to, it starts small.”
Why do you feel that you’re best suited for this position?
“I think I have the most experience of all the candidates. None of us have actual experience in the Circuit Clerk’s office, but we all have court experience. I think I have the most experience when it comes to the Circuit Clerk’s office since the Sheriff’s Office works hand-in-hand for some things.”
What changes would you make to the office?
“My first thing to do would be to learn everyone’s job in case something comes up and someone can’t come in, I need to know what they do so we can still continue business as usual. Second, I would like to observe for a little bit. For instance, at some point I would like to start the process of going digital. Meaning at some point, instead of there being files and paperwork for each case that comes through the Circuit Clerk’s office, it will be digital. It is a big undertaking. Some of the Circuit Clerks that I have spoken to that was their intention as well, but when they got in there it wasn’t feasible for the moment. So, I would like to get in there and see how it runs before I make any changes.”
Do you think that technology will play a big part in the Circuit Clerk’s office moving forward?
“I think it will, yes.”
How do you define public service and how will it play a role if you are elected as Circuit Clerk?
“If someone comes in, it is my job to help them one way or another. Whether I can help them, or if I can provide them with resources, I think that is what public service means. To not just turn someone away, but to give them resources if I personally cannot help them.”
Are there any special skills you possess that separate you from the other candidates?
“I work in Law Enforcement, so I have worked with people when tension gets high or emotions run over and have dealt with those kinds of people before and have the knowledge on how to de-escalate the situation. I may not be able to help them, but my goal is to provide someone with resources to where they feel like they’ve gotten somewhere.”