Letters to the Editor

Island County clerk must do the work

I recently attended a Democratic gathering in Langley and a forum in Coupeville where the candidates for Island County County Clerk spoke. As the former Chief Deputy Clerk, I feel qualified to address some of the comments made.

Patricia Terry pointed to her education in public administration and claimed that she intends to administrate, rather than perform clerk duties. She expressed pride in restructuring the workflow and claimed she acted swiftly, changing office procedures to improve productivity. She repeated her catchphrase, “accountability changes everything.”

These statements may sound impressive, but in actuality they are misleading. It appears that Ms. Terry thinks she is running for a county administrator position, not county clerk. She should know we have county commissioners who administer the execution of public affairs and a court administrator who oversees the daily business operations of Superior Court.

The position of county clerk is a working one and calls for the knowledge, expertise and willingness necessary to fulfill the obligations and responsibilities of the office, not simply oversee the performance of these duties by others.

Accountability starts at the top. If the county clerk is unwilling to learn or perform the basic functions of a clerk, how can she oversee the deputies in her office, insuring statutory compliance? Don’t be fooled by her talk of immediate “reforms” made to improve efficiency. Ask the staff in that office if it is running more smoothly. For a person who admittedly has never worked within the legal system, wouldn’t it be more prudent to take time to educate herself before making significant changes?

“Experience is the best teacher,” has never been more apropos. The experience acquired by Debra Van Pelt cannot be obtained in a classroom or from a textbook. Her extensive hands-on training has provided an education money can’t buy.

Campaign rhetoric aside, ask yourself, “Do I want an administrating bureaucrat, or a County Clerk with the qualifications, experience and willingness to work with the staff, providing the leadership and training necessary to run an office efficiently?”

In this time of fiscal crisis, when we are being asked to pay more taxes, Debra Van Pelt is the only candidate able to give us our money’s worth.

Maggie Lyen

Chief Deputy Clerk, Retired

Coupeville

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