Candidates bring work, educational backgrounds to clerk’s race
Although the Douglas County Clerk's office is responsible for a variety of tasks, the clerk's role in each election is usually most recognizable by voters. And both candidates for the position have ideas about making the voting process a little smoother in Douglas County.
As deputy of elections since 2003 and a nine-year veteran of the county clerk's office, Marni Penrod, a Republican, said her experience would help ease the transition into requirements of the Help America Vote Act during the next two years.
"The county clerk will need the experience to make these decisions," she said.Current clerk Patty Jaimes is not seeking re-election.
Opponent Jamie Shew, a college relations coordinator for Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City, Mo., is vice chairman of the Douglas County Democratic Party. Shew said he would encourage a "paper trail" to validate votes with the electronic machines that will be in effect by 2006.
With a bachelor's degree in government and political science as well as a business background, Shew said he thought he could offer something as county clerk.
"I believe there are different ways we could run local government that can serve the citizens better," Shew said.
As the county grew, Penrod said, so did the work for all aspects of the county clerk's office, especially the portion that keeps records for real estate.
"Our real estate ladies stay very busy," Penrod said.
With the county growing, Shew said more effort should be made to reach out to Douglas County residents who couldn't make it to the office in Lawrence between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.
Penrod offered that computerized systems could help alleviate some growth and accessibility issues. She said aspects of parks and wildlife would be computerized so that instead of filling out triplicate forms, those applying for permits would use a terminal.
"That's especially nice for the outdoorsman who loses his license," Penrod said.
Shew said he wanted to see more e-government, like online access to open records forms, as well as educating the public about the variety of tasks for which the county clerk's office was responsible.
Working in a small office, Penrod said she and staff gained experience in whatever aspect of the clerk's office duties was busiest at that time. During her tenure since 1995, Penrod has worked in areas like accounts payable, payroll, bookkeeping and the motor vehicle tax division.
"I think I have the knowledge and experience to run the office well," she said.
However, Shew said his government/political-science education and business experience outside the clerk's office could benefit the county as well.
"I think the background of the two would bring more efficiency and productivity to the office," he said.