Two vie for Clerk of Court seat



Ray Garza is a Republican candidate for the office of Beaufort County Clerk of Court. He is a tenacious, self-directed, and resourceful professional whose strengths include organization, accountability, and strong work ethic.  Ray has a track record of having a positive attitude and promoting a culture of shared goals and success through training and hands-on guidance. As long as he could remember, he has had the compassion and desire to help others. These virtues have helped guide him through his decisions concerning employment and education.
Ray believes that serving in the United States military is one of the most admirable jobs and services one can perform.  Military service instills a sense of patriotism and respect for our country. He served six years in the United States Marine Corps as a Marine Weather Observer and as a Military Policeman. He served two years as a reservist. After his honorable discharge from the Marines, he started to focus on his family and self improvement through higher education.
Ray believes our elected officials should have a formal education. A formal education is essential in the professional development of a person. Ray has a Bachelors degree in Human Services from the University of South Carolina Beaufort where he graduated cum laude in 2008.  Ray said, “My degree has given me the necessary skills of listening, communication, and research that has helped me find solutions to problems I have faced while working at the courthouse.”  He is currently a candidate for a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Webster University.  Ray expects to complete his masters studies in the fall of 2012.
Ray believes a thorough understanding of the job that needs to be performed comes only from personal experience.  He started working at the Clerk of Courts office in 2007.  He started as an entry level clerk. He quickly learned the processes and was immediately tasked with more responsibilities. After he graduated from college, he was promoted to the Division Chief of Common Pleas. His duties included the day to day operations of the Civil Court. His main focus was case management of the pending files. He monitored case management orders, reviewed court activities for compliance with orders, court rulings, and administrative directives. He also coordinated the attorney’s availability or readiness for hearings, trials, or other court events.
Ray’s two priorities include improving customer service and quality assurance.  Changes to improve customer service include accepting credit cards for payment of fees and fines.  Ray is also going to reverse the “correct change only” policy.  Ray said, “Nobody will be turned away because they do not have correct change.”  He is going to lower the cost of copies.  The court should not be making a profit on copies, but rather set a fee that covers the cost.  Ray is going to establish a debit card program or direct deposit program for Family Court child support/alimony payments. He will work to provide customers with the ability to make online payments for fees, fines, and child support/alimony payments.
The reputation of an organization is how well the records are kept. Ray is going to implement quality control measures to ensure that your records are accurate, complete, and error-free. Quality control measures simply include proper management and review of the files. Ray will hold his staff accountable for the errors and implement training to address the different issues.
The state primaries are June 12, 2012.  For more information about Ray, visit RayGarzaforClerk.com.


By Jerri Roseneau
In 1964, at the tender age of 2, my father received orders to Parris Island and my family relocated to Beaufort.  I attended Beaufort County Public Schools, graduating from Beaufort High School in 1979 and earning an Associate’s Degree from Beaufort Technical College, now known as Technical College of the Lowcountry. My husband Mark and I have been married 26 years.  We have two children, Lauren, a senior attending the College of Charleston and Morgan a senior at Beaufort High School who will be attending the USC School of Business in Columbia this fall. We attend Sea Island Presbyterian Church. Volunteer activities have included numerous hours of community service including teaching Sunday school for 11 years; a member and board member of the Mossy Oaks Elementary PTO for nine years; and a member of the City of Beaufort/Beaufort County Consolidation of Services Committee (1989).
As Beaufort County Clerk of Court I am a member of the Association of Counties and the South Carolina Association of Clerks of Court and Registers of Deeds. As a member of these organizations, I routinely attend ongoing education classes and seminars to maintain up-to-date knowledge of rules and regulations as they relate to the Clerk of Court’s Office.
On August 7, 2009 I was appointed by the governor to the office of the Beaufort County Clerk of Court. Prior to the appointment, I was employed for 28 years as a legal assistant with the law firm of Howell, Gibson & Hughes PA in Beaufort.  During those years I obtained extensive experience in the legal field including the drafting of pleadings, coordinating and scheduling depositions, court hearings, as well as daily contact with attorneys and clients statewide. I have worked with state and federal courts through the years, establishing professional relationships with state and federal judicial officials.  This experience and knowledge provided me with the skills necessary to perform the duties as the Clerk of Court.
Since my appointment, the staff and I have diligently worked together to make many improvements.  First and foremost is to restore public trust to the Beaufort County Clerk of Court’s office.  Necessary changes have taken place, including the creation of Financial Policies and Procedures (checks and balances), distributing unclaimed funds to intended recipients, updating computer hardware and software programs, disposing the backlog of inactive cases, and implementing a security plan. We have computerized our accounting ledgers and all operating accounts are balanced each month. Reports are provided to state and county agencies in a timely manner. Direct deposit for recipients of child support is now offered. Utilizing direct deposit, savings will be realized by reducing check printing and postage expenses as well as convenience to the recipient. These policies and strategies have reduced the operating budget in Circuit Court 24% and Family Court 37%.
The clerk’s office is the heart of the court system in the judicial process.  The office operates in an efficient manner to ensure that an already overburdened court system will not falter.  Our court systems depend heavily on the clerk’s office to serve our county’s current judicial requirements. The office has an obligation to provide accurate information in a competent, cooperative, and timely manner. This is best achieved by ensuring that personnel have the appropriate tools and training necessary to ensure accessibility to the courts.
To learn more, visit my website at jerriforclerk.com. Vote June 12 for Jerri!

Editor’s Note: These articles were provided and approved by the two candidates in response to a request by the Lady’s Island Business Professionals Association for their personal and professional backgrounds and positions on relevant issues.

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