By CLINT FOSTER
The 2014 Republican primary election in March is just three months away and, this year, locals have a wealth of GOP candidates to choose from at the county level.
As part of a continuing series, the Index is previewing each of the three contested races in the upcoming Republican primary, breaking down the candidates and helping voters to be as informed as possible.
With the races for County Judge and District Clerk covered, we turn our attention to the third, final and biggest contested race in the upcoming Republican primary: the County Clerk election. Three candidates are vying for County Clerk this time around, as incumbent Janette Green will face off against Debbie Murray, formerly of the Palo Pinto County Appraisal District, and Loan Assistant Jessica Wright.
Let’s meet the candidates for County Clerk:
Incumbent Janette Green is vying for her second term as Palo Pinto County Clerk, having unseated the previous clerk, Bobby Smith, in the 2010 election. Green has almost seven years of total experience in the clerk’s office, working there from 2004 to 2007 before a brief trip to the county tax offices followed by the 2010 election.
Green said she is running again for the simple fact that she loves what she does.
“I love what we do in that office,” she said. “I love the variety. The County Clerk’s office is probably the most diverse office besides the Sheriff’s Office in the county. We handle so many different types of filings. Every day is different and I love that.”
In addition to her experience, Green said she has a list of accomplishments from her first term that make her the most qualified for the job. She said she has done a lot to upgrade the office, including the capability to scan documents with plans to move closer to becoming paperless and even more accessible to the public.
She said she has also made it a point to pay close attention to law changes during every legislative session, so that she can be as knowledgeable as possible. But what Green really hangs her hat on is her 20 years of customer service experience.
“We give everybody the same treatment; whether you’re an Alice Walton or homeless, if you come into my office, you get the best service we can give,” she said. “In big cities, clerks are more administrative, but I’m hands-on. I wouldn’t ask anything of my clerks that I wouldn’t do myself. I’m what they call a working clerk.”
Ultimately, Green said she hopes voters will give her a chance to continue doing what she loves and improving the office of County Clerk.
“I truly love coming to work every day,” she said. “There’s more things I want to get done. We’ve been playing a lot of catchup and now (if I’m elected) we can move forward and get even more things accomplished.”
One of two challengers for Green’s County Clerk seat, Debbie Murray has 12 years of experience working for the Palo Pinto County Appraisal District in the late 1970’s and ‘80s. Now a sales manager for a PVC company, Murray said she has always wanted to serve the county and felt there was no better time to try.
She said she enjoys county government and keeping up with deeds and county records. She feels like that, combined with her love for working with people, makes her the perfect fit for the job.
“I love the public,” she said. “I feel like I would have a good rapport with the public and knowledge of county records.”
Murray said her focus, if elected, would be to make the voters her collective “boss,” catering to their needs first and foremost. In her estimation, the position of County Clerk would be less about her and more about how she can best help the public.
“If I’m capable, I want to help (the public) in any way that I can,” she said. “Within reason, I’d like to make it their county clerks office. If there’s improvements that need to be made, I’d like to see what they want.”
A lifelong Palo Pinto County resident, Jessica Wright is the third and final candidate in line for the office of County Clerk. A loan assistant at First Financial Bank in Mineral Wells for almost 11 years, Wright said she has a strong knack for customer service.
She said she frequently deals with the County Clerk’s office and – seeing as how she has always wanted to run for public office – she believes there are a lot of ways she could improve the position and make it better than ever.
“I just feel like I want to be more involved with the community,” she said. “I want to improve customer service and technology at county. I want to work for the citizens of Palo Pinto County, not just myself.”
If elected, Wright said she would not only make customer service a top priority, but also respecting the privacy of citizens whose documents and public records she would deal with every day. She also said her loyalty – holding the same job at First Financial for over a decade at the age of 33 – also makes her a prime candidate.
“I have extensive experience dealing with the public and good customer service skills,” she said. “I know I could get the job done.”