Republican Clerk of Courts candidate Jack A. “Jackie” Baker III of Glen St. Mary is a loan officer at Country Federal Credit Union. He holds a high school diploma and studied business and finance at Florida Gateway College.
Republican Clerks of Courts candidate Robert C. “Chuck” Brannan, 52, of Macclenny is a retired sheriff’s deputy and program coordinator for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Florida.
What personal qualities make you uniquely qualified for the office you’re seeking?
J. Baker: I have the ability to focus and commit myself to this office and the citizens of Baker County. My people skills and my desire to work cooperatively with others do uniquely qualify me for this position. However, it is my ability to work with people and the problems they face that especially qualifies me. I am not so unique or different that I cannot relate to those around me. I have the natural ability to relate to real people in meaningful ways.
C. Brannan: A combination of a four-year college education and lifelong dedication to continuing training, leadership and supervisory skills, court system experience, career and board appointed budget experience, a lifetime commitment to community service, honesty, mature judgment, passion about issues and protecting the public’s interest.
What will be your top three priorities in office and how do you plan to pursue them if elected?
C. Brannan: Customer service, accountability and guarding the interests of this county and its citizens. It will utilize improved technology for easier public access while remembering personal face-to-face interaction can never be replaced. I will accept responsibility as the leader of the Clerk’s office and ensure proper management of the office. I will guard the county’s interest by exploring ways to improve the efficiency of the court system and always keep the county first as it relates to public funds and never forget strategic planning for future productivity and savings.
J. Baker: My number one priority as comptroller of taxpayer funds is to ensure the funds are properly safeguarded, while producing the highest interest yields possible. Higher yields make the county less dependent on our tax dollars.
Secondly, I will make sure all citizens who call or step into the Clerk’s office are provided the public service they deserve. Every employee will be cross trained to effectively provide accurate and professional service in a willing manner.
Lastly, I will look for innovative means to improve the efficiency of the Clerk’s office. I will diligently look for ways to cut costs in the clerk’s budget, being ever mindful that it is the taxpayer’s money.
What prompted you to run for clerk of courts?
J. Baker: I made a career move from a larger corporate entity to a local credit union because of a desire to help more people here at home. I realized the position I am seeking offers even more opportunity to help the citizens of Baker County, while utilizing my financial experience. This position also follows a logical progression, at this stage in my career. This office would be my main focus.
C. Brannan: I have always been involved and had an interest in public service. I also have always felt that capable citizens need to be involved citizens. I’m at the point in my life where I have the opportunity to make a difference as an elected official. I have always believed that the true measure of our worth is the value of our service to our communities. We can all make a pledge to make our community a better place to live and work.
What are the most important traits or skills a clerk of courts should have?
C. Brannan: They should be an administrator, a leader, and have knowledge of the court system and budget matters. However, it’s not just about being clerk. It’s about being an elected official, a constitutional officer, a representative of the people, our county and the community.
J. Baker: Experience in the financial industry and a proven track record for providing excellent service to the public; commitment to treating every taxpayer with the respect and the professionalism they deserve.
If elected, what would you work to change about the clerk of courts office?
J. Baker: With my emphasis on public service I would like to install a central phone line so that all calls would be answered and directed by a live person. This personal touch is helpful to people who aren’t sure which area of the office they need. No changes would be made for the sake of change. An analysis would be made to determine the quality and efficiency of how services are delivered. Then, only changes that enhanced the operations of the clerk’s office would be made.
C. Brannan: We currently have an efficient and friendly clerk’s office. I will continue to make it even more user-friendly for the public and attorneys through expanded online access and work to make your in-person visit to the courthouse more efficient through cross-training of clerks and more in-service training.
Describe your experience managing large staffs and/or budgets…
C. Brannan: I spent 29 years in law enforcement and the court system. I have supervised as many as 18 persons doing law enforcement, court-related, court security, secretarial and fiscal duties, such as budget, human resources, inventory and audit. In addition, I have served for 13 years on two different gubernatorial appointed college boards that oversee combined budgets and investments totaling well over $43 million annually and we have never received an adverse audit finding. We make tough personnel, academic, facility and budget decisions each month without having raised tuition and fees for our students in several years.
J. Baker: Working in the financial industry I have the experience of working with business owners and people every day concerning their budgets and financial needs. No one in this race has ever been the Clerk of Courts before. Like all Clerks who came before me, I intend to learn it as they did. My background in finance, working with large amounts of money and a work history related to clerical duties, staff and public service will bring a positive enhancement to the Office of Clerk of Courts.
Describe any legal experience you may have…
J. Baker: The only people with “legal experience” would be an attorney or judge, of which I am neither. I do, however, know how to work with all members of the judicial system in a cooperative way. I do know the clerk’s office is responsible for the accurate and safe record keeping of the cases in our court system. My experience in the financial industry has required extensive training in record keeping and documentation. I am extremely capable of providing exceptional service to our court system.
C. Brannan: Since being elected by the student body at the University of Florida in 1984 to the Student Traffic Court, I have been continuously involved in court systems whether it be collegiate, federal, state or local for 29 years. My life’s career has literally been spent on the courthouse block in public service as a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Deputy Sheriff. No one locally has worked as many cases, testified in depositions, hearings, trials, before grand juries or served as the state’s witness more than myself. At the time of my retirement last October, I was the longest continuously serving deputy sheriff in the history of Baker County, holding every rank from Deputy to Chief of Investigations.