Circuit clerk candidates promise improvements
CHAMPAIGN — Former Democratic Champaign County Board Chairwoman Barb Wysocki and her Republican opponent, Katie Blakeman, told area voters they will work to improve the circuit clerk's office if elected as Champaign County circuit clerk.
Wysocki and Blakeman offered their views at a debate Wednesday night at the Champaign City Building.
Wysocki said her top goals are to appoint a professional deputy at the office, to talk to her staff about ways to improve service and to improve the technological capabilities of the office.
"The office of circuit clerk is a people's office," Wysocki said.
Blakeman said she would strive to improve customer service, improve the office's technology and make the office more accessible for the county's residents.
The circuit clerk's office is in charge of keeping court records and collecting fines.
Wysocki said she would lead the office in a capable, energetic and non-partisan manner, with an emphasis on increased transparency and openness to technology.
"I will not be a place-holder for my party," Wysocki said.
Blakeman said she would be a "hands on" leader for the circuit clerk's office.
"I will be committed to working the front desk myself," Blakeman said.
Both candidates said they support electronic filing of court documents. Wysocki said scanning paper documents and making them available online will be a major undertaking.
"A number of critical documents are still in paper form," Wysocki said.
Blakeman said she would create an advisory committee of those in the legal community to assist with the transition to electronic filing. She also said she wants the office to provide increased free public access to public records.
"I would like to provide more information on the Website," Blakeman said.
The winner on Election Day will replace Linda Frank, a Republican who was appointed to her post in April 1991 and then elected to it for five four-year terms. Frank chose not to run for re-election.
The forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Champaign County, the NAACP and The News-Gazette.