The Edmond Sun

Local News

August 24, 2012

GOP voters will choose court clerk Tuesday

EDMOND — Oklahoma County Republicans will go to the polls Tuesday for the runoff primary election for court clerk.

Voters will choose either Chief Deputy Court Clerk Tim Rhodes of Oklahoma City or state Rep. Charles Key of Bethany. No Democrats or Independent candidates are running for the office.

Oklahoma County has the largest court of general jurisdiction in the state of Oklahoma. Thirty-five judges handle 125,000 new case filings each year, Rhodes said. The court clerk administers $80 million a year in receipts even though the budget of the office has been reduced for three consecutive years, Rhodes said.

“The most important thing I can see on my horizon is to complete our transition to the new computer system with e-filing,” Rhodes said. “We need to get out of the paper handling storage business.”

Electronic filing of data will eliminate the expense of paper storage, and make the documents more readily available to the public, he added. The staff of the court clerk office could be reduced by attrition once this is accomplished, Rhodes said.

Rhodes said he relies on experience as chief deputy court clerk in his bid to succeed retiring Court Clerk Patricia Presley. For 15 years Rhodes has worked to develop and implement all court clerk programs.

“Institutional knowledge does count,” Rhodes said. “I think that’s a benefit to the taxpayer to continue the continuity, to continue on the programs we have planned and render even more efficiencies and services for the citizens.”

Rhodes is involved in continuing budget discussions and planning. Being an attorney helps him deal with policy issues for the county, he said. Court clerks are specialized administrators of the courts.

A former special judge for the city of Oklahoma City, Rhodes earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism degree at the University of Oklahoma where he went on to earn his juris doctorate. He is married and the father of two twin boys, age 16.

The primary responsibility of the county court clerk and the seven other county officers is to make decisions on the county’s budget board, Key said.

Key and his wife, Janice, have two sons and two daughters. He is a graduate of Western Heights High School and did not complete his college degree, he said.

“I think my long time in the Legislature and my business experience as a small business person is really a good experience for this office,” said Key, a retirement planner and insurance broker.

Term limits have caused Key’s House service to expire this year.

“I’ve invested a lot of my life in the political realm,” Key said. “The reason I have is, I believe in the basic principals our country was founded upon — liberty, a limited government, and I want to continue that service.”

Key said he will find more ways to make the office of court clerk more available to the public. Users of the office should expect a less costly, quicker and smoother process when doing transactions at the court clerk’s office, Key said.

Key would like to expand the hours of the court clerk’s office to accommodate the public’s needs. People have complained to Key that they have to stand in lines too long for simple procedures at the court clerk’s office.

“When those lawyers or the general public comes in there, they need to be able to either file documents or get copies of documents quickly and efficiently,” Key said.

In the June primary race, Rhodes finished with 10,480 votes, 39.78 percent of the total 26,345 votes cast, while state Key finished second with 9,485 votes, 36 percent of the count.

Endorsements for Key includes former court clerk candidates Nathan Schlinke and Salome Vaughn. He also has been endorsed by former Oklahoma City Councilwoman Beverly Hodges, a former Oklahoma county commissioner.

“I have also been endorsed by former Oklahoma County Court Clerk, Tom Petusky, the only Republican to have been elected to that office,” Key said.

Rhodes has the endorsement of former Republican Gov. Frank Keating as well as the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

More endorsements for Rhodes include Oklahoma County officers Ray Vaughn, chairman, Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners; Butch Freeman, county treasurer; Carolynn Caudill, county clerk; and Leonard Sullivan, county assessor.

Rhodes is endorsed by the following past presidents of the Oklahoma County Bar Association: Howard K. Berry, Jr., Jerry Tubb, Burck Bailey, Jack Dawson, Peter Bradford, Pat Ryan, David Pomeroy, Joe Crosthwait, Jimmy Goodman, Tim Kline, John Belt, William Conger, Gerald Durbin, Rex Travis, Brooke Murphy, Reid Robison, Charles Geister, James Kirk and William Burette.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for the runoff primary election.

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