Duval County Clerk of Courts

Published On: Jul 30 2012 12:31:06 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 18 2012 02:10:23 PM EDT

The primary race for Duval County's clerk of courts was overshadowed a legal challenge to incumbent Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller seeking a fourth term, and the controversy may have helped attract six challengers to the contest. A judge ultimately ruled term limits passed by voters decades ago were constitutional, so Fuller was out and former city councilman and mayoral aid Ronnie Fussell, was became the uncontested winner of the Republican nomination.

Former School Board member Brenda Priestly Jackson won the Democratic primary, and joins independent candidates Averrell Maynard Thompson and John Winkler on the General Election ballot with Fussell. Write-in candidate Rick Hartley also qualified in this race.

Scroll down and read about the candidates on the ballot, in alphabetical order.

Ronnie Fussell Ronnie Fussell


PARTY: Republican
AGE:  55
FAMILY:  Wife, Rebecca; son, Chandler; dog, Herschel the Wonder Dog
OCCUPATION:  Consultant/real estate
EDUCATION:  High school; attended Florida Junior College
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE:  Served on various advisory boards and commissions, as well as mayoral transition teams; 4 years on Mayor John Delaney's staff; 6 years as City Councilman At Large

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE TOP THREE ISSUES IN THIS RACE?

  1. To improve our public service work environment, which will allow us as employees to better serve the citizens of Duval County
  2. To improve efficiencies by working with other branches of government to create a more accessible streamlined process
  3. Continue to enhance technology to increase speed and accessibility for customers, employees and jurors


HOW DO YOU THINK YOU CAN HELP VOTERS IN A WAY OTHERS IN THIS RACE CAN'T?

  • "The experience I gained in customer oriented private business coupled with the knowledge and experience of serving in both the legislative and executive branches of government makes me unique. I have a working knowledge of government and I understand the importance of efficiency while caring for the customer."


WHAT WOULD YOU HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR ACCOMPLISHING AFTER SERVING IN THIS OFFICE?

  • "That I upheld the integrity of the court system and for treating each person who enters the court with value and fairness."


CAMPAIGN WEBSITE:  None | Facebook.com/Ronnie-Fussell-for-Clerk-of-the-Circuit-Court | TWITTER: @VoteFussell

Brenda Priestly Jackson Brenda Priestly Jackson


PARTY:  Democratic
AGE:  45
FAMILY:  Married with four amazing children
EDUCATION:  B.A. Grambling State University, J.D. University of Florida College of Law
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE:  Former chairperson and member of the Duval County School Board 2002-2010

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE TOP THREE ISSUES IN THIS RACE?

  • "The top three issues I hope to address in this office are public access to the cletk's office, digital usability, and civics engagement of our young people."

HOW DO YOU THINK YOU CAN HELP VOTERS IN A WAY OTHERS IN THIS RACE CAN'T?

  • "I will bring practical knowledge and citizen/taxpayer centered high quality services to the public as your clerk."

 
WHAT WOULD YOU HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR ACCOMPLISHING AFTER SERVING IN THIS OFFICE?

  • "I would hope to be remembered for fostering greater access, efficiency and accountability in the cletk's office."

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE:  None | Facebook.com/pages/Brenda-Priestly-Jackson-for-Clerk-of-Circuit-Court

Averrell Maynard Thompson Averrell Maynard Thompson


PARTY:  No party affiliation
AGE:  35
FAMILY:  Married for 12 years; 2 boys
OCCUPATION:  Attorney
EDUCATION:  Juris Doctor, Florida Coastal School of Law (2009);  Master of applied social science, concentration in public administration, Florida A&M University (1999); Bachelor of science in political science, Florida A&M University (1998)
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE:  "State boards and commissions; office intern, executive office of Gov. Jeb Bush; volunteer assistant for field director (African-American outreach) Jeb Bush gubinitorial campaign;  intern, office of U.S. Sen. Bob Graham; College campus volunteer for Clinton-Gore campaign"

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE TOP THREE ISSUES IN THIS RACE?

  1. "The first top issue is the eligibility of the current Clerk of Courts to be a candidate for this office due to term limits.
  2. "The next top issue is providing the community with more forms that can be accessed online.
  3. "The last top issue is general office efficiency."

HOW DO YOU THINK YOU CAN HELP VOTERS IN A WAY OTHERS IN THIS RACE CAN'T?

  • "I will help the voters with my innovative ideas to make the Office of the Clerk of Courts more cost effective and simultaneously enhance the customer service experience."


WHAT WOULD YOU HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR ACCOMPLISHING AFTER SERVING IN THIS OFFICE?

  • "I want to be remembered as providing a customer focused Clerk of Courts that is efficient and cost effective."


CAMPAIGN WEBSITE:  Averrell.com

John Winkler John Winkler


PARTY: No party affiliation
AGE: 57
FAMILY:  Wife of 25 years, Lynne, and children Jennifer, Victoria and Curtis
OCCUPATION:  Lawyer and advocate for citizen rights
EDUCATION:  High School valedictorian, Princeton University (history), UNC-Chapel Hill (law degree),  University of Florida (Master of laws in taxation)
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE:  President of Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County 2009 and 2012; candidate clerk of courts 2008; candidate tax collector 2003

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE TOP THREE ISSUES IN THIS RACE?

  1. "Decreasing costs while improving poor past performance. A public office is a sacred trust. The Clerk's office has been treated as a private fiefdom, and cutting back on the 35 appointed staff, and their $1.7 million annual payroll, will free wasted resources to correct problems like the present excessive delays in important routine services -- issuing default papers in civil cases, for example. More cross training of the underappreciated civil service employees and a willingness to eliminate processing bottlenecks will result in improvements to services to the public at no new cost. Both physical access to the Court-house and digital access to the public records maintained by the Clerk must be improved for those with any practical limitations. As Clerk John Winkler will take immediate steps to improve the Clerk's website so that the visually impaired and those who speak languages other than English have a better opportunity to receive and comprehend the information they need to access public records and the Courts. John Winkler will also undertake the long overdue digitizing of microfilmed official re-cords covering most of the last century to make them available online. The Clerk's 300 civil servants, who took pay cuts and unpaid furloughs while the Clerk issued $174,000 in bonuses to appointees, are rightly concerned over this shabby treatment and their work ethic suffers as a result. John Winkler promises that no one, himself included, will be immune from budgetary belt-tightening. The public cannot feel confident that they all will receive equal treatment when the Clerk does not act in an even-handed way with his own employees.
  2. "Fiscal Coordination of Clerk and City. John Winkler looks forward to working with the rest of the City Government as a team player. For at least a dozen years, if not all the way back to Consolidation of city and county back in 1968, most Clerks have resisted full partnership in the unified local government. All public offices must cooperate if Jacksonville is to avoid municipal bankruptcy. Currently the Clerk demands payments from the City for services without audit or accountability. Even now the Clerk declares that his 'œstate money' can be spent without regard to the City's budget woes and massive cutbacks in local services. As Clerk John Winkler will not forget that regardless of how the Clerk's budget is determined, it is funded by public taxes, fees and fines, held in trust for the public good. John Winkler will join with and in the City's budget process at every stage possible, and foresees no future need for City subsidies.
  3. "Nonpartisanship and Professionalism versus Recycled Party Political Office Holders and Pensions. John Winkler is a non party candidate and a regular patron in the County Courthouse. He is convinced from experience that the Clerk of Court's Office is no place for partisan politics -- arguably the position should not even be an elected office. We can thank the belated arrival of term limits for finally creating a real opportunity to end 'œbusiness as usual' political operations at the Clerk's office by voting for the experienced, independent, attorney in this race.
    "This year the two major parties have representatives running for Clerk, Brenda Priestly Jackson (former School Board member) and Ronnie Fussell (former mayoral aide and City Council member). Both already have vested State of Florida Retirement System pension rights from their prior membership on these policy boards. Both party candidates stand to more than quintuple their expected pension draws if elected, making much more in likely lifetime taxpayer funded pensions from a term as Clerk than they would from the actual salary.
    "Recycling either of these candidates is not in the public interest. One is only a high school graduate, and the other exercised highly questionable judgment when seeking favors is school placement of her children, leading to an investigation by the Florida Ethics Commission into possible abuse of her public office. While all candidates have said the Clerk's election should be nonpartsan, it is John Winkler who is both the best qualified and running with no party affiliation."

HOW DO YOU THINK YOU CAN HELP VOTERS IN A WAY OTHERS IN THIS RACE CAN'T?

  • "Both the Democrat and the Republican candidates presided over huge budget increases in their previous offices of School Board and City Council, respectively.  The Democrat also has disturbing personal financial issues while the Republican has no higher education and may not even be a high school graduate.  An office with nearly 400 employees and an $18 million budget requires the attention of someone with both integrity and professional credentials, which I possess."

WHAT WOULD YOU HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR ACCOMPLISHING AFTER SERVING IN THIS OFFICE?

  • "Improving services, saving tax dollars, and getting partisan labels off of future Clerk candidates."

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE:  WinklerForClerk.com

Qualified write-in candidate: Rick Hartley

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