04/09/06 — Four will battle for clerk of court

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Four will battle for clerk of court

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on April 9, 2006 2:04 AM

Wayne County voters will decide the candidates for county clerk of court in May.

Early voting for the May primaries starts Thursday. Registration for the primary closed Friday. The primary will be held May 2.

With the retirement of incumbent Clerk Marshall Minchew, four people are seeking the clerk's post.

Jo Ann Summerlin and Pam Minshew, who is not related to Minchew, will face each other in the Democratic primary. In the Republican primary, Randy Winders and Amy Carter Scott will contest.

The race for clerk does not alway generate the greatest amount of attention during an election, but in this relatively slow election year, there is apparent strong interest in the race across the county. Hundreds of signs, especially touting Democrats Summerlin and Minshew, dot the Wayne County landscape.

Each candidate believes he or she would be the best person to replace Minchew, who served two four-year terms in office. He announced in the fall of 2004 that he would not seek a third term.


Pam Minshew has worked in the clerk of court's office for more than 25 years and said that experience makes her the best candidate for the job.

Her knowledge of the office, its job and its staff would give her an edge over any other candidate in the race, she said.

Mrs. Minshew said she had been encouraged in the past to run for clerk, but never wanted to run against someone with whom she worked. Now that the opportunity has presented itself, she said she feels not only capable of performing the job but confident that she can do it well.

"I'm confident that I can do the job because I'm the only candidate who has worked in the clerk's office. I have more than 25 years of experience, I actively supervise the employees, and I've rendered thousands of judicial decisions," Mrs. Minshew said.

During her time in the clerk's office, Mrs. Minshew said she has dealt with nearly every kind of case and had opportunity to interact with people from throughout the community.

"I feel I have gained knowledge of what appears to work and not work in the office and this would take a newcomer years to reach," Mrs. Minshew said.

If elected, she said she would be kind, courteous and fair and maintain an open-door policy with the public.


Jo Ann Summerlin was the first candidate to enter the race, announcing her intention in January of last year.

A veteran of the legal system, she said her 39 years of experience as a paralegal aide and 25 years focusing on law enforcement management make her the best choice. She is a nationally certified paralegal and a member of the board of directors of the North Carolina Paralegal Associ-ation.

"I felt like with the years of experience and the education I have that I have something to offer Wayne County residents and to make a difference," Mrs. Summerlin said.

She said her primary purpose, if elected, would be to serve the public with a staff that works diligently from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. With her knowledge in civil, criminal and real estate cases, Mrs. Summerlin said she believes she has a broad knowledge of the legal system that would benefit the people who come to the clerk's office for assistance.

"I pledge that, under my leadership, the clerk's office will be operated in a manner that fully serves the citizens and the legal profession of Wayne County with dignity and professionalism," she said.


Randy Winders said his more than 30 years of working as a business manager gives him experience in dealing with problem solving, dealing with people in all walks of life and managerial skills. All would serve him well as clerk of court, he said.

Winders said his experience is backed by years of hard work, and that voters could count on him to see to it that the clerk's office operated in an efficient manner. He said if elected, he would work hard for the people of Wayne County.

"I have the willingness and desire to serve the citizens of the county, and this office provides the avenue to do it," Winders said.

If elected, Winders said he would develop a team concept that allows employees, citizens and attendants to voice their opinions on what could be improved within the office.

"If a change were to occur in the clerk's office, it would be to increase effectiveness and to better serve the community," Winders said.


Amy Carter Scott said she believes her education and experience make her the leading candidate for clerk.

For the past 12 years, Mrs. Scott has worked as a litigation paralegal and trial court coordinator for Greene and Lenoir counties. Although she has enjoyed her job, Mrs. Scott said she believes she can give more to the community by serving as clerk.

"I have experience and knowledge dealing with criminal and civil cases. I think it's good for a clerk to have knowledge of the whole process," she said.

If elected, Mrs. Scott said, she would seek to motivate the clerk's staff through her leadership abilities and by performing her own duties well.

"I would train, plan, keep up with the courthouse and keep up with the surrounding region and its possible impact on the court," Mrs. Scott said.

In the coming years, she said, the county's the population will continue to grow. The clerk of court's office must be prepared to deal with that growth, she said, and the increased workload that can be expected to accompany it.

Mrs. Scott said she understands that many people feel nervous when they go to the clerk of court's office because they are unfamiliar with the legal system. To ease that feeling, she said she would seek to implement a self-help center that could help simplify the way people obtain the information forms and resources necessary to handle their own case.

She also hopes that people will forget about political party distinctions when they go to the polls.

"Partisanship shouldn't play a part in this election. It should be about the best person for the job," Mrs. Scott said.