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3 Republican candidates for circuit clerk respond to 4 questions

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[January 27, 2010]  At Tuesday night's chamber-sponsored candidate forum, not a discouraging word was heard. During the response time for treasurer candidates, both Chuck Conzo and Vicki Dugan set the tone, presenting why they were the best choice, rather than criticizing or challenging their opponent.

The circuit clerk's forum was just as civil, if not more, as three friends -- Mary Kelley, Suzann Maxheimer and Rachel Bunner -- who all currently work in the circuit clerk's office, used their time to promote their strengths rather than someone else's weaknesses, with a few comments politely directed at each other.

In opening remarks Kelley said she has the most experience of the three candidates, with 31 years, coming to the job right out of high school. Kelley said she has been trained in every aspect of running the clerk's office, citing that when previous circuit clerks were absent, she took over as chief deputy clerk.

Maxheimer said she is the only candidate who has the experience of being the circuit clerk, as she currently holds that office. She said it is important to know what the priorities will be each day in an ever-changing office.

Bunner stressed her education, citing she has a bachelor's degree from LCU and has a diversity of experience in the clerk's office. She also said she was honored to have been endorsed by the previous Logan County circuit clerk, Carla Bender.

1. The question was asked of the candidates as to what they saw as the chief concerns that face the office right now.

Maxheimer said the county has asked her office to cut their budget by 5 percent, and that means looking at everything from office supplies to renegotiating copier leases. "If we can save a few dollars running out for something instead of having it delivered, that's what we have to do," she said.

Bunner said she didn't see a huge concern, as the office had been well-maintained under Bender's leadership for the past 17 years. She said the staff members all know their jobs and the office has a positive work flow.

Kelley decided to respond to her opponent's comments by saying that the budget cuts were 3 percent, not 5 percent as stated by Maxheimer. She says the abrupt departure of Bender was a shock to the office. "The office is in disarray. (Staff members) are wondering what is going to happen." Kelley also said that although Bunner has a degree, she herself has 31 years of on-the-job education.

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2. The question was asked of all three candidates as to what plans they have for running the clerk's office.

Bunner said that continuing the efficiency developed by Bender in the office was important. And communication is important in an unpredictable job, to help staff be prepared for what comes through the door.

Kelley said first on her agenda was to work with the child support division, as many recipients would like direct deposits made available. She also wants the office to be "the most people-friendly office we can be." The office also needs to help direct people to where they need to go, with so many resources available that they aren't aware of.

Maxheimer said it was important to have consistency in maintaining the efficiency of the office, to "tweak" things, such as improving the clerk's Web site, and give people more choices when seeking help that isn't under the jurisdiction of the clerk's office.

3. When asked what leadership skills were necessary for the position, Kelley said it was important to be a good leader and respect the staff. "It's important to listen and understand," she said.

Maxheimer noted that all three candidates "bring a lot of experience to the table." She said, "We all will work together."

Bunner said communication was a key, as well as managing your time. "Prioritize, being committed, and have a good temperament and be able to maintain your composure."

4. When all three were asked about maintaining the clerk's office with current budget constraints, Maxheimer started by pointing out to Kelley that the office was asked to cut expenses by 5 percent, and the 3 percent number was the board's approval on pay raises. "We need to look at every line item (on the budget) and get as close as we can get," she said.

Bunner deferred the question, saying that whoever is elected won't take office until December and only then can someone determine what needs to be done, looking at the current situation.

Kelley said she planned to look at the budget closely to see what can be adjusted.


The general primary election is Tuesday, Feb. 2.

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