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Chancery clerk candidates tell why they’re in race

Three Lincoln County Republicans are seeking to fill the chancery clerk’s seat that will be vacant when Tillmon Bishop retires at the end of the year.

Bishop has served five four-year terms. He was one of nine candidates who ran for the open seat 20 years ago.

Now three want his job — Quinn Jordan, Alisha McGehee and Pete Moak.

The candidates for Lincoln County Chancery Clerk — listed below in alphabetical order — emailed their responses to three questions.

Quinn A. Jordan, 42, director, Lincoln Civic Center Governmental Complex

Experience for the Chancery Clerk position: It is necessary to know the responsibilities of the office of chancery clerk to know the experience required to effectively fulfill the duties of the office. The office of chancery clerk is one of public service requiring proven effective leadership, strong business, managerial and administrative experience, and the ability to make critical, definitive decisions. The clerk’s duties include, but are not limited to: governing county matters, serving as county auditor and treasurer, public recorder of documents, and as clerk to the Board of Supervisors and chancery court. The clerk is responsible for maintaining efficient filing and access of public records, both in-office and through the electronic filing system, maintaining accurate indexes and preservation of records, managing five full-time employees and one part-time employee, and overseeing a $20 million fiscal budget. In addition, earlier this year, the board appointed the clerk as their economic development point of contact.

The following has prepared me with the leadership, experience, and skill set necessary to effectively serve as your chancery clerk: graduate of Mississippi College with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management and a 20-year career span in the corporate, private and government sectors. While serving as director of your civic center, I have prepared and adhered to multi-million dollar budgets, successfully managed over 120 individual projects and over 50 employees, kept organized and accurate detailed records, managed purchase orders, provided detailed income and expenditure reports, demonstrated results and a commitment to excellence, and saved the taxpayers $900,000.

What are your goals for the chancery clerk’s office and how do you plan to accomplish that?

Effective leaders need a specific set of goals. My focus for the future include: utilization of current technology with the expansion of online accessibility of documents, providing an updated and easily navigated website, providing efficient accurate recording of documents, both in-office and through the electronic filing system. Mental health and economic development affect the lives of all citizens. If allowed the privilege of serving as your next chancery clerk, my priority will be to fulfill the statutory duties of the office with efficiency and integrity, and later expand those duties to include enhancing mental health processes and outcomes for individuals and their families and facilitate economic development conducive to new and existing business growth, which will be achieved through a joint effort between the city, county, chamber and our legislators.

What are your thoughts concerning transparency and accountability in the chancery clerk’s office and how do you plan to improve it?

This is the people’s office, the people’s matters, and the people’s tax dollars. I support complete transparency and accountability and am committed to handling all with professionalism, consistency and integrity, with a hands-on approach based on Christian values. 

The office of chancery clerk is one of service and should not be driven by a fee-based system that incentivizes the clerk to charge more and repetitive fees to make more money or to ensure the office meets the statutory pay cap.  I plan to improve transparency and accountability by working with chancery clerks across the state to change the current statute concerning collections and pay structure. In removing the fee-based salary system, we can focus more on our citizens. All fees and funds that are collected should go directly into the county’s general fund and the office should operate on a budget just like all other departments throughout Lincoln County government.

Why are you running for chancery clerk?

I love Brookhaven and Lincoln County. This is where Kim and I grew up and chose to raise our children. After much prayer and consideration, together with my family, we made the decision for me to run for chancery clerk. The reasons I am seeking this office are simple — service to others and dedication to our community. The responsibilities of the chancery clerk’s office are very diverse and will touch the lives of the majority of residents at some point throughout their lifetime. I have a heart to serve and the desire to make a positive difference for our residents in leading our local government and Lincoln County forward in the right direction.

Alisha McGehee, 42, senior deputy chancery clerk for Lincoln County

Experience for the Chancery Clerk position: Having worked in the chancery clerk’s office for the past 22 years has helped me gain the “on the job” experience needed to be qualified for this position. I have held many different positions in this office, from chancery court clerk to currently senior deputy clerk. I have been cross-trained in all areas of the office, from delinquent taxes to how to record and index Board of Supervisor minutes.

What are your goals for the chancery clerk’s office and how do you plan to accomplish that?

The goals as with any office would be to make the records easily accessible and to keep them accurate. I would continue to provide great technical support, as well as accurate scanning of all documents into Delta Computer Systems and the Mississippi Electronic Court System. These two databases are the means to search our records. In the last few years, we have created accessibility for off-site retrieval of our records. This is one area that I plan on expanding in the future.

What are your thoughts concerning transparency and accountability in the chancery clerk’s office and how do you plan to improve it?

Transparency in the chancery clerk’s office can be achieved by different means. Every document filed is of public record, with the exception of adoptions, mental/drug commitments and youth court matters. My experience allows me to know which documents are public and how to retrieve them. I will assure the public of accurate filings and quick retrieving for viewing. I will be hands-on in this office and I already have the knowledge and ability to address and correct problems. On day one, if elected, this office will continue running with accuracy and efficiency.

Why are you running for chancery clerk?

I have been asked this question many times throughout my campaign. I have been a public servant working for you the taxpayers of Lincoln County in this office for the past 22 years. I have devoted over half of my life to the work of the chancery clerk’s office. I know the functions of this office like no one else, and how it affects the public. When you do something for 22 years of your life it becomes part of you. There will not be a need for a learning curve as I already know the duties of this office.

Pete Moak, 50, business owner with 27 years of real estate appraisal experience

Experience for the Chancery Clerk position: Working knowledge of the chancery clerk’s record room such as: researching records and filings, navigating ownership and tax maps, remotely accessing records through the Delta Computer System, understanding of conservatorships dealing with estate matters, experience handling sensitive personal matters pertaining to real estate.

What are your goals for the chancery clerk’s office and how do you plan to accomplish that?

It is my desire to continue moving the chancery clerk’s office in a forward progression using technology for record keeping and accessing public records. It will be my mission to make sure that all public records prior to 1985 are scanned and readily available online for efficiency and convenience. As clerk of the Board of Supervisors and treasurer to the county, it will be my duty and honor to maintain accurate reflections of board minutes, as well as uphold integrity with balancing taxpayers’ dollars. I will lead with a “hands-on” approach to the office and remain very engaged with the specific duties of the chancery clerk position. It is my belief that the responsibilities of the office of chancery clerk should take precedence over secondary service opportunities and if elected, you have my word that my commitment will be to the chancery clerk’s office.

What are your thoughts concerning transparency and accountability in the chancery clerk’s office and how do you plan to improve it?

As with any elected official, transparency and accountability is key to success. The people of Lincoln County need to be able to trust whomever they choose as their next chancery clerk. Because the chancery clerk’s office works directly with public records from court cases to land ownership, as well as, acting county treasurer, remaining accessible and always having an open door about these key points of information will be essential. To trust someone, you must have first have a strong relationship with them. I believe I have proven over the years that I have no problem with building strong working relationships with others and I will maintain this level of professionalism as your next chancery clerk.

Why are you running for chancery clerk?

I have been called to a place of public service. That’s what the Chancery Clerk is — a public server. As a lifelong resident of Lincoln County, I’ve demonstrated public service in many capacities; little league baseball coach, Sunday school teacher, and even as your local real estate appraiser. I’ve proven that I have the utmost integrity, can successfully run a business, and that my job responsibilities are a priority. I’m confident that leading the chancery clerk’s office in a progressive direction would be a great place of service for me.

According to the website, golincolnms.com, the chancery clerk’s various duties given by statute, or assumed voluntarily by the individual clerk, cover a wide range of vitally important functions. The duties and functions of the chancery clerk are governed by an assortment of statutes and court rules, along with procedures established either by the State Department of Audit or the Department of Finance and Administration.

As the clerk of the Board of Supervisors, the chancery clerk records the official minutes. As treasurer, the clerk prepares the claims docket and payrolls for all departments of the county, and after board approval, he writes and signs checks for payments.

As public recorder, the clerk handles the recording and storage of several types of documents and maintains various indexes that aid people in researching these records. The primary records are deeds and mortgages relating to real property, but the clerk also records construction and condominium liens, federal tax liens, notices of pending lawsuits and military discharges.

The clerk is in charge of the storage and authorized disposal of older land rolls, tax receipts and many other county records after their active use lifespan.

As clerk of the chancery court, the clerk handles a multitude of tasks such as matters of estates, guardianships, conservatorships, divorces, child custody, adoption, property disputes and other matters of equity.

Voting info

Election Day for primaries is Aug. 6 with a runoff, if needed, set for Aug. 27. General Election Day is Nov. 5.

Absentee voting is underway through Aug. 3 at noon at the Lincoln County Circuit Clerk’s office, which is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mail ballots can be requested, but the law requires they be returned by mail only by Aug. 5. Mailed ballots cannot be returned in person at the office.

People may vote absentee for several reasons, including if they will be out of town on election day, if they are temporarily or permanently disabled or if they are 65 or older, Bairfield said.

To see sample primary ballots, visit www.lincolncircuitcourt.com and click on “elections.”