(NOTE: The SCPR has offered to do a similar on camera interview with Democratic incumbent clerk Nancy Reinbold or, alternatively, based on whatever her wishes are, to publish a statement by her in response to Heimbaugh's criticisms and for her to give an accounting to Stark County taxpayers on her stewardship of the office)
Originally, the Stark County Political Report planned to publish a blog on the Stark County Clerk of Courts race this weekend pretty much limited to running the full video of an interview with Republican challenger (to Democratic incumbent Nancy Reinbold) without much if any SCPR comment.
However, in the interview which The Report conducted last night challenger Jeff Heimbaugh made a very impressive case that Reinbold has not effectively managed the clerk of courts office, that yours truly thought better of the original plans and decided to make the usually "not sexy" clerk of courts race a focus of attention.
WHAT DOES A CLERK OF COURTS DO?
The Clermont County clerk of courts website provides a succinct definition of what a clerk does, to wit:
The Clerk of Courts is the elected official responsible for all the documents filed with the Common Pleas Court, maintaining the court’s files, for issuing warrants, summons and executing bonds, for issuing motor vehicle and watercraft titles, for registering notary public commissions, and accepting passport applications.RECENT HISTORY OF THE CLERK OF COURTS OFFICE
Reinbold (wife of former Stark County Court of Common Pleas Richard Reinbold who had been chief deputy) inherited the Stark County clerk of courts office from Democrat Phil Giavasis (i.e. appointed by the Stark Co. Democratic Central Committee with Giavasis' endorsement).
An interesting aside is that Reinbold shortly after taking office hired Giavasis' brother Louis (also Plain Township trustee) as the chief of the Stark County Title Bureau.
There is political speculation that if re-elected (having been elected in her own right in 2008), Reinbold will be retiring either with the normal expiration of a new term (December 31, 2016 or thereabouts) or, perhaps, some time sooner. If the conjecture is correct and she does the latter, then the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee will be appointing her successor.
Giavasis left the post in July, 2007 to take on the more lucrative (a $19,000 increase in salary which, of course, impacts largely on future pension benefits) Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts position as an appointee of the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee.
Before Giavasis (who held the office from December, 1992 through 2007), the office was held by Republican Helen Garofalo from 1975 through 1992.
So it seems that the political party which captures the clerk of courts office in any given election has a stranglehold on it.
THE STRUGGLE TO BREAK THE CURRENT DEMOCRATIC STRANGLEHOLD
Breaking the stranglehold that the Democrats currently have on the office is the task of Lake Township and Uniontown resident Jeff Heimbaugh.
Heimbaugh currently works as an insurance salesman at a independent agency in Uniontown, has two adult children and has lived in Stark County about 15 years. He has run for office before. Once for Lake Township trustee, once for the Lake Local Schools Board of Education and ironically (drafted to fill in late in the game; the original GOP having withdrawn) to run against Phil Giavasis for the Canton clerk of courts position in 2007.
As the Stark County Political Report sees it, Heimbaugh raises serious issues as to whether or not Reinbold had been a good steward of the clerk of courts office.
In the video interview which follows (an abbreviated version to cover the main issues presented), Heimbaugh says that Reinbold:
- has not effectively managed the budget for the clerk of courts office,
- is allowing millions of dollars (at least $5.7 million) owing to the taxpayers of Stark County go uncollected,
- is inefficiently running the county's court management system and could save taxpayers money by going to a commercially available "case management system,"
- (Heimbaugh says that Reinbold has a former employee who now lives in Las Vegas, NV [incorrect, actually it is Utah] as an independent contractor making $85,000 maintaining the system) and
- is about to embark on a computerization upgrade (i.e. the filing of legal cases by "e-file") which could cost Stark County taxpayers thousands upon thousands of dollars because Reinbold:
- is working an "in house" case management system that needs to be reworked periodically at county expense rather than use commercially available software,
- is planing on developing an "e-file system" at the cost of about $1 million which may be doable at a lower cost.
On Saturday, the SCPR plans to publish the entire interview.