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County clerk candidates speak out

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SMOKEY POINT All three candidates for Snohomish County Clerk have touted their qualifications for the job, but each one brings his or her own priorities to the role.
Bob Dantini, of Mill Creek, believes that his years in the public sector have afforded him with a more diverse field of experiences than those of his opponents.
Ive worked in both the legislative and administrative sides, said Dantini, whose 28 years in public sector finance, accounting and auditing include 12 years each as the performance auditor for the Snohomish County Council and the Snohomish County Treasurer. With any candidate, theres going to be a steep learning curve, but I bring a history of leadership and a familiarity with state laws.
Dantini promised to approach the job of county clerk with a fresh perspective.
I have no preconceived notions, Dantini said. When I became treasurer, I encountered this attitude of, Its always been done this way. That didnt mean it was the best way.
Dantini also expressed a desire to inspire trust and confidence in the county clerks staff.
They dont have the same levels of medical and dental benefits as other county employees, Dantini said. That will be my first priority.
Dantini sees expanded Internet services as one of the best ways to serve residents of Marysville, Arlington and Darrington so that they can download information and forms without having to make the trip to the county clerks office.
It saves time and money all around, Dantini said. I want them to have unfettered access to the best possible customer service.
While Dantini cited his transferable skills, Ron Ledford of Marysville pointed to his own passion.
Im all about passion, said Ledford, whose 27 years as experience as an executive court manager includes seven years as the chief deputy county clerk. You have to enjoy a job to do it this long.
Ledford summarized the role of the county clerk as providing support services to the courts and customer services to the public. He then diagnosed three areas that he intends to focus on, if elected as county clerk, which he characterized as continuations of the work of outgoing Snohomish County Clerk Pam Green.
I see the abuse of senior citizens as being about where domestic violence was 10 years ago, or rape was 10 years before that, Ledford said. There are no support mechanisms in place. As our society ages, its irresponsible not to expand our protection of them.
Ledford likewise hopes to implement felon collections, to help them repay their debts to society and partially restore the losses suffered by their victims. He also intends to digitize all the county clerks records by the end of the year, and shares Dantinis support for electronic filing.
I dont want to trivialize the offices labor problems, though, Ledford said. If its still a problem when I get there, my day one priority will be to get a contract. All union contracts are negotiated by the association with the county executive, but I would push both sides back to the table every day. I can be a motivator, a mediator and a thorn in both of their sides.
Like Dantini, Sonya Kraski of Arlington ranked the labor dispute as her first priority, adding that pay rates for county clerks office staff have been frozen since 2000.
Were losing qualified, trained staff at an alarming rate, said Kraski, whose 22 years of experience in the county clerks office have ranged from file clerk to senior manager. Ultimately, its up to the county executive to approve, but as someone who can see things from both staff and management perspectives, I can help stabilize the situation.
While Kraski echoed her opponents calls for greater availability of court documents on the Internet, she also urged caution.
Before the days of identity theft, it used to be that you had to have dates of birth and Social Security Numbers on certain court documents, Kraski said. Ive read documents from divorce cases that would make novels look boring. Many of these are public documents, but thats a bit different from sitting at home and finding them on an Internet search. These documents need to be available, but we need a more balanced approach.
Kraski concluded by presenting herself as a candidate who has worked in or supervised practically every position within the office.
Snohomish County Clerk candidate Web sites:
Sonya Kraski: www.kraski4clerk.org.
Ron Ledford: www.ledford4clerk.com.
Bob Dantini: www.bobdantini.com.

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