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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - From a county clark: "Once a clerk, always a clerk"

Article 6, Sec. 2 of the Indiana Constitution:

Section 2. (a) There shall be elected, in each county by the voters thereof, at the time of holding general elections, a Clerk of the Circuit Court, Auditor, Recorder, Treasurer, Sheriff, Coroner, and Surveyor, who shall, severally, hold their offices for four years.

(b) * * *

(c) No person shall be eligible to the office of Clerk, Auditor, Recorder, Treasurer, Sheriff, or Coroner more than eight years in any period of twelve years.
(History: As Amended November 4, 1952; November 6, 1984; November 2, 2004).

Today Jessica Campbell of the Michigan City News-Dispatch has a good story about the job of county clerk that sheds light on those requirements. Some quotes:
Lynne Spevak said the inability to leave the clerk's office for good is a joke among county government office holders throughout the state. Even despite placing her name in the ballot for the treasurer position in the next term, Spevak said she will always have the knowledge of the La Porte County Circuit Court Clerks Office in the back of her brain.

In the upcoming La Porte County primaries, Spevak will run for the treasurer's office once her current term limit is out at the end of the year. Spevak has held this position four times, totaling 15 years of experience.

"I'll just put all that knowledge in the back of my brain," she said. "Let's learn something new."

Spevak, 54, was born in La Porte, attended La Porte High School and earned an Associates degree from Davenport College in South Bend. In 1994, she joined the clerk staff working part-time in the microphone office. In 1996, she applied for the clerk role and in 1998, after a hold-over year, she began her first term as La Porte County clerk.

She enjoyed the daily tasks of working with court files, elections, bond financials, child support, marriage licenses and archival work. "It is a challenge every day and no day is the same," she said. "It is fast-paced and I thought I was capable of doing that when I started."

At some points, she admitted, the position is stressful, especially when files and reports are not turned in on time and she has to collect fines from people.

The biggest mistake over the four terms that Spevak remembers is misspelling a name of a candidate in one of the elections. The name, she said, was misspelled on the ballot, and no one caught the mistake until 4 p.m. on election day.

"There are a lot of minimal mistakes but, to me, that was the biggest thing," she said. "We try to make corrections right away when anything happens."

When looking at her options after her term limit is out at the end of the year, Spevak said, she knew Nancy Hawkins was also finishing out her term. Hawkins is the current La Porte County treasurer.

"If you like county government then you just look around for the next open office," Spevak said. "I saw the opening and said, 'Hey, I'll give it a try.'"

If she wins the new position and serves out the four-year term, Spevak said, she has the ability to re-apply for the clerk office, however she said 15 years is a lot.

Among the four terms, she was able to have a year break where she could regenerate herself since the positions of clerk and auditor are known to be the hardest roles.

"You're just busy every day," she explained. "There are so many responsibilities; sometimes it is just too much."

With the treasurer role, Spevak would take over the tax sale and property taxes, and how the city invests funds. "I'm going to have to learn some stuff," she said. If she wins, her new job will take her to 555 Michigan Ave. and will work with the two Michigan City treasurers. * * *

"I am a hands-on worker, always working the counter or answering the phone," she explained. "Hopefully, I am not as busy in the other office. If I win and get bored, though, I can come over here (to the clerk's office) and see what's happening."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 4, 2016 09:16 AM
Posted to Indiana Government