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Elections

Position papers: Stow Municipal Court clerk

10/31/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Diana Colavecchio (incumbent) vs. Kevin Coughlin vs. Frank Larson


Voters living in the Stow Municipal Court district will vote for one candidate for court clerk in the Nov. 5 General Election. In the West Side Leader coverage area, the Stow Municipal Court serves the communities of Boston Township, the city of Cuyahoga Falls and Peninsula Village. The race is nonpartisan. The information provided below was submitted by the candidates, with their responses to our questions printed as submitted.

 

Diana Colavecchio (incumbent)

Describe the duties and responsibilities of the Stow Municipal Court clerk and why you are the most viable candidate for the position.

“As the Clerk of Courts, I oversee the operation of the Court’s civil and criminal dockets, collect fines and costs and disburse those monies to area governments and agencies. Also, as Clerk I administer a $1.2 million dollar budget and manage approximately 17 full-time Deputy Clerks. Since taking office, I have fulfilled these duties and more. In my short tenure, I have already implemented practical, cost-saving measures to assist the Court in sustaining its operations, some of which include: 1) Online Payment System — without any cost to the Court, we now accept online credit card payments. In the first month, credit card revenues were $10,000 higher than the prior month. 2) Intern Program — I partnered with the University of Akron to hire Interns. Our Interns perform ministerial duties so that highly trained Clerks can concentrate on the tasks that require more skills. 3) Technology — I worked with the Judges to increase our Clerk Technology Fund from $3 per case to $10 per case. This will triple revenues and help provide the funds to go paperless. I also believe our Court should have a presence in the community we serve. Therefore, I began speaking to area non-profits and residents about our work so they can better understand our function. Going forward, there is more to be done. I take a comprehensive approach to governance. This, along with my legal background, make me the most viable candidate.”

How would you propose to improve the functions of the clerk? Please be specific.

“Improving Court functions will require the consolidated effort, cooperation and financial planning of the Clerk, the Judges, court employees and local government leaders. The largest and most expensive task that lies ahead is going paperless. As an attorney, I performed electronic filing for many years — I understand how it works. With my highly trained staff by my side, I will be able to seamlessly implement this conversion. As part of the conversion, the Clerk’s office will need to move to efficient, automated systems, such as: 1) biometric thumbprints; 2) electronic signatures; 3) high-speed scanners with OCR capability; 4) check imaging; 5) security cameras; 6) e-tickets; etc. Equally as important to technology, we will need to conduct a self-study to determine overall performance. We need to measure our efficiency and effectiveness as the branch of government that delivers justice. Courts around the country have already begun using a system to improve called CourTools©. I am positioned to bring the most up-to-date technological advances to the Stow Municipal Court.”

 

Kevin Coughlin

Describe the duties and responsibilities of the Stow Municipal Court clerk and why you are the most viable candidate for the position.

“The Clerk maintains all records of the court, manages case files, administers warrants and court orders, conducts the collection of unpaid fines, receives and distributes all fines and fees, and provides the public with access to their court system. We depend on the clerk’s office to ensure the justice system runs efficiently and safely.

“As a proven executive and lawmaker I am committed to modernizing and professionalizing our antiquated clerk’s office. Having authored the legislation creating the Stow Municipal Court, I have a stake in its success.

“The judges are doing a great job, but the clerk’s office is stuck in time and still runs largely on paper. I’ll professionalize the staff, move to electronic case records and filings, and work with our judges to bring our courthouse into the 21st century.

“I am the only candidate who has the freedom to run the Clerk’s office as a professional, free of influence by the party bosses. That’s why they tried to keep me office the ballot. They lost and now the people will have an opportunity to keep our judiciary independent and impartial.

“I’m proud to have been endorsed by both Republican and Democratic elected officials because I will be able to make personnel, program and management decisions based on what is best for the taxpayers and the court because I will answer to no one but the voters.”

How would you propose to improve the functions of the clerk? Please be specific.

“Modernize the Court:

  • “Move to electronic records.
  • “Identify and implement the latest and best technology for case management, fine collection, and records retention.
  • “Implement online case filings — it’s an embarrassment that this court still runs on paper.

“Improve Customer Service:

  • “Allow people to pay fines online with a system that works.
  • “Expand the court records available online and improve the search capability for public records.
  • “Get serious of collecting unpaid fines.

“Professionalize the Office:

  • “Staff the Clerk’s office with professionals to improve its operation and customer service.
  • “Implement employee review and evaluation program to ensure ongoing professionalism.
  • “Ensure staff is trained to use new technology for smooth and secure operations.”

 

Frank Larson

Describe the duties and responsibilities of the Stow Municipal Court clerk and why you are the most viable candidate for the position.

“The Clerk is an administrative position, not a legal or legislative position. The main duties being the safe keeping of the Court records, the collection and disbursement of monies, transmission of records to other governmental agencies, fulfilling public record requests. Also the preparation of the annual budget and living within that budget

“I am the most qualified and experienced candidate for this position because my record shows that I have been performing a position that has greater responsibilities and doing it with great efficiency.

“My record shows, as an administrator I put the taxpayer first and provide better services while using less of the taxpayers monies. As Mayor, I am responsible for the operation of the Mayor’s court, the Safety Forces, (Police, Fire/EMS), the Finances and Administration of the City and the Department of Roads and Utilities. For the last 10 years I have run the city the way government was meant to work, for the people.”

How would you propose to improve the functions of the clerk? Please be specific.

“I would bring the Clerk’s office into the age of modern online computer technology, providing ease to the public, attorneys and businesses for filing and accessing public records and at the same time insuring the security of the records. Also, I would make sure the public is served with respect and dignity by the best trained and qualified personnel. I would work to lower the amount of uncollected funds and increase efficiency throughout the system, to improve the collection of fines. Finally, I would make the finances of the clerks office and court, transparent so that all citizens will be aware of the true cost of our court system.”

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