Tuesday, January 12, 2010

White Ready to Kick Off Campaign

Marion County Clerk Beth White is kicking off her re-election campaign at noon today at Union Station and following that with a campaign fundraiser this evening from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Firefighter's Union Hall on Massachusetts Ave. That's only half the story of this remarkable journey to a re-election bid by Clerk White.

Going back to that first election for White, the primary of 2007, did you ever believe that we would see White as a near shoo-in for re-election? I mean, Republicans had to be looking at White like lions eye that gazelle on the plain.

In May of '07's primary, White was let down by pollworkers who simply failed to show up for work that day. Dozens of polling sites didn't open for a few hours and a handful of the polling sites didn't open at all. To her credit, it was White that stood up and took the criticism and the shots from the political columnists, political cartoonists, and bloggers on both sides of the aisle across the county. It was White that took the responsibility for all those problems from that first election where multiple precincts didn't open on time and a few didn't open at all. She didn't play the blame game, and she certainly could have made a case for it. Some were loudly wondering if she should continue as Clerk.

Beth White didn't step down. Not even close. She was out on television that night acknowledging the errors and saying that she was going to fix the problems. She had fixed almost all the problems by the General Election in 2007, and she didn't stop there.

White said that there were too many precincts in Marion County. She helped to champion a new precinct model that cut the number of voting precincts from 917 to now just 590. She helped to champion and implement countywide satellite voting centers instead of the normal early voting site at the Clerk's Office. In 2008, she administrated an unprecedented three high-profile elections with the media...both local and national waiting for the first sign of trouble, and there were no issues. In 2009, she was the first Marion County Clerk to organize a referendum as new state legislation forced a vote on the Wishard Hospital project and several school funding questions. Reaching out to high school students, White has registered thousands of students in Marion County high schools through the Y-Vote Program. The accomplishments go on from there.

The Marion County Clerk's Office is a monster with many many responsibilities. A quick look at White's website reveals some of those responsibilities. From the website...

"The Office of Clerk of the Circuit Court is established by the Indiana State Constitution to serve as the record keeper for the constitutionally created Circuit Court. The Clerk is elected by the residents of Marion County and is limited to serving two consecutive terms. The Clerk of the Circuit Court serves as the Court Clerk and also as the Secretary to the County Election Board which is responsible for conducting all elections in Marion County including the certification of results.

The Clerk serves as trustee of child support collections ordered by the Court to be paid through the Clerk's Office and also acts as the chief financial officer to the Courts by collecting, disbursing, and reconciling monies related to court cases. The Clerk collects filing fees, court costs, and judgment monies in civil cases. In criminal and infraction cases, the Clerk collects fees and fines for city, county and state jurisdictions, deferral and pretrial diversion fees, bail bond monies, and restitution ordered by the Court. In Marion County, the Clerk also collects probation related fees."

In short, it's an all-consuming job, and White and her staff have done it extremely well since that May day in 2007 where it all went wrong. Rarely has a public servant been able to turn a failure into an afterthought by hard work, dedication, and hiring the right people. White has done all of that. Republicans must be scrambling to figure out how to run against White.

Ironically, it was that face plant in her first election that turned out to be perhaps the best thing that has happened to Beth White. Her grace under pressure and abilities as a problem solver have been on display since that bad day. She's been phenomenal. What a way to turn a potential campaign detriment into a campaign win.


Had Enough Indy? said...

She certainly made a believer out of me. County Clerk is one highly demanding job - a fact that is not appreciated widely enough IMHO. My hat is off to her and I hope to see her in the Clerk position for the next 4 years.

Anonymous said...

I wish she was running for Prosecutor.