Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Blair Williams
Date of Birth: 5/5/1961
Mailing address: P O Box 11 Raleigh, NC 27511
Campaign Web Site: www.BlairWilliamsClerkofCourt.Com
Occupation & Employer: Assistant Clerk of Court / Attorney – State of North Carolina
Home Phone: 919-880-2995
1.What do you think are the most important issues facing Wake County Superior Court?
The most important issue to me is the day to day management of our courthouse team. The Clerk of Court is in the peoples’ business. I find there is not a truer statement that describes what my work family does. We carry out the peoples’ business daily. Our Clerk of Court team is often the first contact when the community requires the resources of our court system. I have managed our deputies and assistants for years, ever mindful of how each member of our team has different talents and how those talents directly relate to the community’s experience with the Clerk’s Office. Rare is the occasion when any member of our community is happy to be in the courthouse and often it is a highly emotional situation that brings them to interact with our team. The stress and emotion of one’s circumstances while in the clerk’s office can be very challenging, and I take meeting and overcoming this challenge as a personal responsibility.
I will take every measure within the authority of the Clerk of Court to make sure that our team is well trained and emotionally ready, regardless of what resources the law makers feel our team deserves, to adequately handle our community’s needs. I ask that your vote keeps me with my Clerk of Court family. I have celebrated the births my Clerk of Court family’s children and mourned the loss of their loved ones along with all the life events in between. I know what our team needs to provide our community the service that is expected from their justice system. While managing our team is the most important issue it is also the most rewarding aspect of my service with the Clerk of Court’s Office.
Lack of equal access to the justice system is a huge challenge, as there is an understaffing of interpreters for our diverse community. Our current courthouse family needs a bit more diversity in order to adequately serve our ever growing and changing community. I will advocate that any new positions granted are filled by qualified applicants that are multi lingual in an effort to ensure that equal access for our clients.
Deficient technology is another issue of concern. This issue has allowed me to utilize my creative thinking skills in developing ideas that have allowed our office to keep up with our ever growing community using outdated and limited technical resources. Some historical perspective is needed to adequately describe deficiencies. When I first interned with Colon Willoughby’s Office in 1994, a DOS screen with a data system using cryptic codes greeted my computer screen as I logged on, that same screen greets me as I search for criminal records as it relates to the Clerk’s procedures today. Twenty years later that same system is being used, yet the volume of cases has increased exponentially.
The same DOS system that greeted me in 1994 is woefully limited in the information that it provides our team and our clients in 2014. I have taken on the mantra while serving in the Clerk’s Office, if you want it done you got to do it yourself, in creating accessible data in helping our team overcome these technology deficiencies. Our team was almost condition to hear me reply did you check the “K” drive (our computer drive for accessible data) when they called to ask me a question. The community cannot risk that the technology deficiencies will overcome any Clerk of Court and thus in these tight budget times the community will need a Clerk that can do what I have done in allowing our team the creative license to create alternatives that allow our team to keep up even if our tools are deficient.
Your vote for Blair will ensure that your Clerk that has used creative alternatives will leave a legacy of advocacy for a new system. A new system that needs no alternatives and that is worthy of a justice system in the midst of the Research Triangle Park and two city blocks from Red Hat, Inc.
2. What in your capacity as an administrator or other experience qualifies you to serve as Clerk of Superior Court?
I have served on the administration of the current Clerk of Court and have managed current team members and their supervisors. I have always drawn on my prior private industry management training as well as my passion for customer service to provide effective service for our community. I have run the daily operations in the Clerk’s absences making sure the designation of “Blair’s in charge” meant that our team and our clients were well served.
3. Do you think more hiring is needed in the Wake County court system? What else could be improved?
The November 2013 presentation of the Judicial Department Workload Study presented by the Director of AOC John Smith and Brad Fowler indicates that more hiring is needed. That report indicates that 284 additional assistants and deputy clerks are needed statewide. According to the workload study our office currently operates with eight Wake County Clerk of Court team members doing the job of ten clerk of court members. I am proud of that fact but also concerned. I am proud as our courthouse team knows that by pulling together we can accomplish more than what is expected. I am concerned in that currently we operate on a very thin margin. If there are unexpected absences then the potential for not meeting our goals and the expectation of our clients is very likely. In business it is acceptable to run on a thin margin. When so much of the community depends on a court system the thin margins are at the least a concern and at the most unacceptable.
What else could be improved? I am a firm believer that there is room for improvement in everything we do and therefore this would be an exhaustive list from me.
But for me the duplicity of tasks in one of my pet peeves, in my mind if you do once the right way there is no reason to do it again. The duplicity of tasks appear most often in the Clerk of Courts Office when and entry is typed into one system and the same or some of the same information has to be typed into another system. So the system that I would advocate for in question # 1 would eliminate the need for duplicity of the task of typing.
Another issue that could be only be improved by its elimination. That system is the micro fiche system, I know some readers are not even aware that micro film still exists, unfortunately I am reporting to those readers a lot of the wake county records can only be viewed from a micro film reader, now this is true the micro film reader assigned to wake county was so old that there were no longer parts for it. So depending on the day if you came down for a court record our response was “the reader is broken there are not parts so we are waiting for someone to try to fix it” without new parts. I am happy to report that the Office of Administration of the Courts lent us there reader after we suggested that our clients drive to their office in Cary. This antiquated system should have been replaced ten years ago it is time to make the final improvement by shifting to digital records.
Another of my top improvements would be the actual way our team keep records of the actual whereabouts of a physical file. Our office is responsible for making sure that we maintain the physical file of millions of cases. That file has a direct impact on someone’s life so maintenance of that file is one of our office’s most important duties. The task of maintaining the files could be improved by using the bar code that is already printed on the files. Our physical files folders arrive at our office preprinted with a bar code. Our office has no system that utilizes those bar codes and thus our office tracks the files through various hand printed sign out sheets, and different data bases all of which must be checked when a file is needed. I would advocate for a scanning system that allows us to manage the whereabouts of the files.
4. How would you define yourself politically? Do you think a person’s political philosophy is relevant to their role as Clerk of Superior Court? If so, how?
While the position of the Clerk of Court is more of a management position and although the Clerk of Court has no political agenda except for the rule of law and equal access to justice. I am proud to have the values which allow me to serve the community in a manner of which I would want my family to be served. I am running as a Democrat and am asking for the Democrats of Wake County to Vote for me on May 6, 2014. Do you think a person’s political philosophy is relevant to their role as Clerk of Superior Court? If so, how? Yes if someone has a philosophy of smaller government or pay as you go government that is extremely detrimental in running an office that is the cornerstone of how our society resolves its issues. The Clerk of Court is not the position for individuals that have any agenda other than making certain the staff and procedures recognize every community member’s right to access to our justice system.
5. As voters approach this race in a primary, what sets you apart from the other candidates in this race?
The fact that buying an airline flight ticket doesn't make you qualified to fly the plane. I often tell people that the clerk’s office is a lot like a jet airline with the Elected Clerk as the pilot. I have been in the co-pilot seat and actually have piloted the plane during the course of past 6 and half years of service but as any pilot will tell you it takes one hundred on the ground to make sure the one can fly. So as important as pilot and co-pilot are, I have also made it a point to do as many of those “ground jobs” as possible. The different roles I have served in over the years gives me a unique perspective to pilot our courthouse. That type of hands on learning has earned me respect personally and professionally from my team because they understand I am willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. That type of “hands on” approach has earned a type of respect from our courthouse team in that they understand I am willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done.
6. What, if anything, do you think voters should know about the position of Clerk of Superior Court?
How this position affects their family. It is not hard to imagine that life’s circumstances should find our family faced with one of a few of examples of community issues in which have served as judge. I have adjudicated property boundary disputes between neighbors, whether an adoption was lawful, whether an abandon vehicle remained on your neighbor’s property, whether a mortgage company could foreclose on a family’s home, whether someone could get a new birth certificate, whether a dad could inherit from his daughter, how a family’s estate was divided, whether or not someone could obtain a divorce, decide whether or not someone’s parent would lose the right to drive, vote or have any decisions about where they live or what medical treatments they needed.
The person you elect will have the authority to judge these and many other issues that affect your family. I have run my own business only to see my only supplier bought out be my competitor, managed hard working textile employees through 3rd shift nights, I have worked in the construction industry providing the labor for some of our area homes all before I found myself in a serious car accident thinking there must be something else. That something else was a call to serve by attending law school with a desire to help others. I find myself after ten years of working post college and nineteen years of legal experience after completing law school in a position to continue to serve. I want the voters to know my philosophy of service is placing myself in the position of others.
And since your family typically may not have a choice of how or when they are involved with the Court – you need to exercise your choice and choose Blair on May 6, 2014, because of the knowledge about these and many other procedures, to make sure your family is treated fairly and with respect in regards to impactful and emotional decisions that affect your family.