Races near end

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Two Escambia County citizens are hoping to take over the position of circuit clerk in the November election as Ken Taylor steps down from the position he has held for many years.

Becki Breckenridge and John Robert Fountain have thrown their hats into the political arena in hopes of capturing enough votes to win the spot and serve in the position.

Each of the candidates was posed questions relevant to their campaign and their qualifications for the job.

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What qualifies you for this office?

Breckenridge: “I feel there are three major components that qualify me for the position of Circuit Clerk. First, with over 15 years experience in business management, I am prepared to handle the many different responsibilities of this busy office. Second, with a background in staff training, I have the tools to help each clerk and team member continually develop our skills to become better at each respective job and maintain a more efficient office. Third, my love for people, years of serving the public, and a heart for community service prepare me to serve fairly, and cheerfully as Circuit Clerk.”

Fountain: “I work with one division of the court system right now.  When you talk about filing and everything to do with the court system, it’s all the same. Whether your talking about circuit court or juvenile court, the process is all the same. With my experience of 11 years in the court system as a juvenile magistrate, I feel like that makes me the more experienced candidate.”

What is the most challenging issue facing this position?

Breckenridge: “The most challenging issue facing the circuit clerk is operating within our current budget. Although recent cut backs have eliminated much needed man hours, we are charged to maintain a level of excellence through the clerk’s office for the people of Escambia County”

Fountain: “No doubt it’s budget issues. When the clerk’s office budget got hit, Ken Taylor lost a lot of clerks and was working late hours. I do that now. Ken has nine clerks. You need ten to have a fully staffed office. Four of those clerks are being paid from a fund. I feel like, having the knowledge of the court system, I would be able to step in as a working clerk and fill that void.”

What can you do to help overcome that challenge?

Breckenridge: “My skill set in analyzing systems for efficiency will be an asset to this position. Every task must be carefully evaluated for efficiency. We must be willing to implement new technologies and adapt as these technologies change. Also, my experience as a small business owner means I know how to work within a tight budget. We must make the most of the funds we have to make sure the taxpayers’ hard earned money is not wasted.”

Fountain: “The court system is looking to go to e-filing. They have what they call Alacourt. In the juvenile system you have Jupiter. It’s an off branch of Alacourt. It’s the same system. Not only that, but you have court dockets you’re responsible for. We develop our own dockets, so I know how that works.”

Fountain commended Escambia County judges and county commissioners for working to provide funds for state employees whose salaries have been eliminated, a list that includes his own, but said having the knowledge to maintain a functional office in the midst of cuts is essential.

“The circuit clerk doesn’t have control over that. Every one of those employees are state employees.  So a circuit clerk coming in saying ‘I’m going to save all of you,’ that’s a fallacy. The county needs a circuit clerk that can step in and immediately fill Taylor’s shoes.”