Clerk of Court Responses
2023 Clerk of Court Responses to Public Questions
The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce asked the public to submit questions for candidates running for Clerk of Court in Pittsylvania County. The responses listed below came directly from the candidates and have not been altered or revised in any way.
1. What are your qualifications for Clerk of Court, and what issue or policy position would best define the difference(s) between you and your opponents?
Dixon: Pittsylvania County is and will remain my motivation and top priority. Since I launched my campaign, Karen L. Dixon for the Clerk of Court, I have always reminded residents that I am indeed your Committed Partner. Please remember me as one who is Proficient in my duties, Available, Responsible, always Transparent, a Native, Experienced with over 34 years, and Reliable.
I am at least the 5th generation of Miller’s born in Pittsylvania County. Upon recently I found out my family’s past after we acquired the historical Sharswood plantation. I am now assured that our life timeline and circumstances are never by coincidence but rather a light for our path while remaining faithful.
I’ve gained experience in several positions over 34 years to stand before you today as the perfect candidate for the Clerk of Court of Pittsylvania County. Currently I work for the Pittsylvania County - Court Service Unit. As a Public Service employee, I assist County residents with issues related to Juvenile and Domestic relation filings. This includes petitions for custody, support, family/child protective orders, and juvenile complaints.
I began with the Commonwealth over 13 years ago, in Halifax County General District Court as Deputy Clerk of Court for Judge William Watson and other substitute Judges. There I handled Traffic, Criminal and Civil cases. Creating, updating, and maintaining case files while utilizing the Case Mgmt and Financial Systems. Later I transferred to Danville City - Court Service Unit until transitioning into my current position in Pittsylvania County.
I’ve been a licensed Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson and held my NASD, Series 6 Registration. I’ve been employed in many capacities of Federal, Local and Private sectors of businesses and government including employment at the U.S. Mint-Philadelphia as an Accounting Clerk, Prudential Investments as Underwriter for Life Insurance and Case Manager for Annuities, worked as an Assistant to the City of Harrisburg Treasurer Office and have been employed as an Accountant with Leo A. Daley, before returning back home to Virginia.
I continue to be a beacon in our communities where I’ve volunteered as PTO President at Mt Airy Elem and Chatham Middle, been President of the 640 Rescue Squad Auxiliary and member of the School Board Citizen Advisory Council. Currently I am a member of the Pittsylvania Co. NAACP, Dan River/Blairs Civic League and have served as an Election Officer for over 10 years.
My focus of obtaining goals is my basis for being a determined team leader who continues to build upon efficient methods for continually progress and growth. My roots run deep in this County and here is where I will remain a committed PARTNER for what is best for Pittsylvania County Circuit Court and County residents.
Harris: I am a proud employee for Pittsylvania County for which I have worked for the past 15 plus years as an Administrative Judicial Assistant in the Circuit Court Judge’s chambers. Before that I worked in the City of Danville’s Circuit Court Judge’s office as an Administrative Judicial Assistant for fifteen (15) years as well.
In my last thirty years, I have worked in the offices of Judges Ingram, Milam, Melesco, Strauss and now the current sitting Circuit court.
I have also worked alongside visiting judges from all three courts within our Circuit.
I have worked alongside Circuit Court Clerks Gibson, Haymore and Scarce. One of my biggest jobs as the Circuit Court Judicial Assistant is scheduling our trials for the Court. In scheduling cases I have to be very familiar with the cases and what is needed for each of them. I have become very knowledgeable with criminal cases and civil cases.
I work daily with our Clerk’s office and the deputy clerks. I have an excellent relationship with each of them. They come to me when they have questions and if I cannot answer their questions, then I am able to speak with the Judge for them and find a resolution.
I was trained to also work the courtroom as the court reporter. I sit side by side with the Judge on the bench. This has helped me become very familiar with the courtroom procedures and the types of cases we have and how they are handled by the judge from jury trials to civil cases to criminal cases.
Jones: I’ve served for eight years as a deputy clerk in the Pittsylvania County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. During this time, I’ve taken the initiative to cross train in the various functions of our office. I attended classes offered by Virginia Judicial Services to improve my knowledge of the codes that govern our office and our operating systems. I am already trained and ready to serve as the Clerk on day one.
The Clerk’s Office will have several deputy clerk positions to be filled at the beginning of 2024. I have the unique ability to know what to look for in new hires, to train them, and fill in for them while they are training. I am the only candidate with experience working in the Clerk’s Office.
Scarce: While working at the Sheriff’s Office I have learned from our constitutional officers and other county departments that with my 11-year Information Technology background that I can serve our community by helping update the infrastructure and technology of the Clerk’s Office. As the digital age is ever-growing, I would like to keep the best tools in the hands of the staff to continue with the fast work pace of the office as well as helping citizens find what they need as easily as possible.
Stone: I was a Deputy Sheriff in a fast paced / high volume criminal justice office in the Danville, Pittsylvania County area for over twenty years, and a supervisor for over fifteen of those years. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice that I earned while working full time and raising a family with my wife. I have gained experience working with all three courts in Pittsylvania County. I am a board member of the Pittsylvania Historical Society and trustee of the Callands Clerk’s Office. I am a graduate of the Leadership Southside program, and a graduate of the Piedmont Criminal Justice Training Academy. It is through the latter I am certified through the Department of Criminal Justice Services. What separates me from my opponents is my experience in leadership. Being a leader is about developing people and motivating them to work as a team. Currently there is a great team of Deputy Clerks working in the Clerks Office, but every team needs a leader. With my experience I feel that I am that leader.
Wyatt: Some of my qualifications for Clerk of Court include my military background, law enforcement experience and education. I am a United States Marine Corps combat veteran. I am currently a Danville Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant, and I work closely with the courts and their employees daily. I am educated locally; I earned an associate degree from Danville Community College. I directly supervise uniformed deputies, including supervisors, and civilian employees. I bring a diverse leadership approach to the table with my Marine Corps and Danville Sheriff’s Office (civilian and uniformed) supervision, which sets me apart from the other candidates.
2. What changes will you implement if elected Clerk of Court of Pittsylvania County? Why should a voter support your candidacy?
Dixon: The Clerk of Court is responsible for an array of duties for Pittsylvania County residents. These duties have been fulfilled by H. F. Haymore and our current clerk, Mark W. Scarce. Just like those Clerk’s before me, who have been steadfast and vigilant, I will continue to do the same. I will remain compliant with all powers and duties as your Clerk of Court of Pittsylvania County Circuit Court.
I wish to offer positions to qualified constituents from our diverse population and retain current Clerk’s Office staff who shares a wealth of knowledge gained throughout the years. While being proficient, I will focus on reviewing current procedures while promoting cross training and staff development.
We are all in this together and I am one of you. I’ve listened to your concerns Pittsylvania County and please know together we can build upon a sure foundation with principle and purpose. No matter your wealth, race, or age, I am your advocate. I hold fast and remain faithful and here is where I will remain as your committed partner for not only what is best but put into effect key initiatives for our future generations to grow upon.
Harris: Our Clerk’s office has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years with our online services and we have been a part of several pilot programs with the Virginia Supreme Court. We have been the first in the state with several online services. I am excited to continue the growth and to excel for our community. I would love to find a way to pay our deputy clerks better wages. They work very hard and deserve to be paid as well as other clerks in surrounding jurisdictions.
I feel I have the most knowledge of all of the candidates. My thirty years is proof of that. My current job has prepared me for the Clerkship and will be able to hit the ground running with little training and can be an asset for the Court and clerk’s office immediately.
Jones: I will improve our customer service by cross-training our deputy clerks. Within the Clerk’s Office there are several divisions including; the civil department, criminal department, deed recording, probate and fiduciary. Cross training deputy clerks ensures they can meet each customer’s needs.
I will encourage deputy clerks to attend the classes offered by the Virginia Judicial Services, keeping them abreast of updates and changes to code and operating systems. I will improve the functionality for customers entering our office to make it easier for them to find the right place to complete their transaction.
Scarce: I would like to continue the efficiency and high standards set forth by the Clerks over the years and for the Clerk’s Office to continue serving the public within in the Code of Virginia, I plan to continue with great service of the office doing all we can within the laws to help our citizens. With technology becoming more and more of our daily lives, I look forward to the opportunities we may see to bring more records available to the online community as well as keeping the best tools in hand for the staff of the office. I feel my 11-year technological background, experience in public service, and possible longevity within the office are a few of my key assets.
Stone: I will seek qualified, diverse candidates to fill vacancies in the Clerks Office. Also, a system will be put in place to cross-train Deputy Clerks to assist in the event of vacations and sick days. Outside training opportunities will be offered to all Deputy Clerks. Our team will invest more focus on the preservation of records and seek assistance from the State Library of Virginia in this endeavor. To offset the cost of this process we will apply for grants. My team of Deputy Clerks and I will work to make more of our services are available online, with guidance from Virginia state statutes. If elected I will provide leadership, commitment, and service to the citizens to Pittsylvania County. I have over eighteen years of service to Pittsylvania County and more years of leadership experience in a criminal justice office than any of my opponents. If the citizens of Pittsylvania County decide to put their trust in me, I will always put their needs and concerns first.
Wyatt: My first objective would be to meet with the outstanding staff members of the Clerk’s office to receive their input on any procedural changes that may be needed. It is important for a leader to include the hard-working, dedicated members of the office before making changes. The deputy clerks have a vast wealth of knowledge in their daily job functions that are essential to any necessary changes. One change I would like to see is all state fees waived for concealed carry permits for qualified veterans and first responders.
An informed voter should support my candidacy based on my leadership experience, high ethical standards, integrity, transparency, accountability, and professionalism. If elected, I will incorporate my Christian and conservative values to lead the Clerk’s office. I have dedicated my entire adult life to serving our community and country. I would be honored to continue to serve as the next Clerk of Court for Pittsylvania County.
3. If elected, will you finish digitizing the land records so they can be accessed through Secure Remote Access to Land Records (SRA), and will you remove the $0.50 per page charge?
Dixon: I agree with digitizing the land records for secure remote access and wish to continue digitizing all other records as well. I wish to offer a digitalized atmosphere with easy access capabilities. This will be an initiative as we are upon a time in which information is necessary and key, in some cases, needed hastily.
I understand, as a Citizen of this County and as a consumer, that items cost money. Over recent years, all cost have risen significantly to an all-time high. In this particular case, the cost of these prints is associated with the accessibility of paper and ink. These resources are needed to provide printed copies. At this time, I would agree in reviewing the cost directly associated with this fee.
Harris: Yes, I will finish digitizing our land records so we can move forward in the computer age. I will still implement the cost since it costs our office as well.
Jones: Digitizing and preserving our records is a high priority, as we are the record keeper for the county. I will work with the Library of Virginia and other resources to continue the efforts of past Clerks in this regard. Virginia Code § 17.1-275 (8) in part states that for making a copy the Clerk shall charge a fee of $0.50 for each page. The Clerk’s Office is governed by the Codes of Virginia and when a code reads “shall” we must do as it says. Therefore, the fee will remain at $0.50 per page for copies.
Scarce: One of my goals, if elected, is to continue with the digitizing of land records for accessibility and preservation. I would keep the per page charge in compliance with the Code of Virginia 17.1-275 the clerk shall charge the following fees: 0.50 per page to reimburse the locality.
Stone: If elected, work to digitize the land records will be continued. These records will be accessible through the SRA system (Secure Remote Access). The current Clerk has done a great job digitizing land records through the mid to early eighties. The current fee is just over $400.00 annually, which is the lowest possible rate. The registration for the SRA system can be gained through the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. The $0.50 per page fee must stay in effect due to state guidelines.
Wyatt: Yes, I would absolutely finish digitizing the land records to make them easily accessible. We live in a digital world and modernizing the office is one of my goals. I would also ensure that anyone who is not familiar with the digital format receives any assistance needed to obtain their records by providing in person assistance and step by step instructions online.
I cannot say definitively if the fee will be removed if I am elected. I would need to see the revenue produced by the fee, and how it would impact the budget. If a small fee keeps the taxpayer out of the equation, it may need to remain.
3. What are your three overall priorities as Clerk of Court that you hope to accomplish during your time in office? Why are these the most important?
Dixon: I love speaking with residents and listening to concerns. I am one of you and will remain a committed partner who is proficient in my duties as your Clerk of Court. The Clerk’s Office will continue to do what is necessary for the citizens of Pittsylvania County. Some priorities I wish to accomplish during my term would be as follows:
1. The Clerk of Court, which I may refer to as the official Keeper of Records, maintains important records that shows our historical past, our present and ultimately the future of our loved ones, our children and their children who will continue to call Pittsylvania County, with its serene presence, home.
We will all go through the loss of a loved one. One initiative I wish to accomplish involves Probate and Estate Administration and the filing of Wills. I wish to retain these last wishes by having Wills recorded, scanned, and retained electronically and in a way that is readily accessible. I believe this to be appropriate to ensure that the decedent’s wishes are recognized. In a time of mourning, I hope loved ones are comforted in knowing that the wishes of their loved ones are available and able to be shared.
2. The Clerk’s office retains our official records of Land and Life! These records show our past, present, and ultimately the future of our heirs and beneficiaries.
I wish to offer an initiative for a paperless atmosphere. This involves having records scanned and saved electronically which could eliminate or greatly reduce an excess of paperwork and files. This initiative would ultimately save money, boost productivity, save space, and remain more secure.
3. I wish to implement time and space for Courthouse Marriages – We continue to issue marriage licenses for County residents however residents are referred to Danville City or are provided a list of other officiates who may handle this lifechanging event. I wish to offer this service, here at home for our County residents at the Pittsylvania County Circuit Court, Clerk’s Office.
Harris: One of the most important things about being a Clerk is you must be a people person and have the willingness and ability to work with others, you are the face of the Clerk’s office and you want your office to reflect competency and knowledge.
I will work hard to ensure our office and our deputy clerks are kind, knowledgeable and highly trained so that each person that calls or walks in our door is assisted to their satisfaction.
And always having an open door policy and relationship with the citizens our of great county. GOD BLESS
1 - Building an exceptional team of deputy clerks. Expanding our diversity in the office and maintaining excellent customer service and professionalism are top priorities for me.
2 - Bringing the Clerk’s Office up to speed with the way modern business is conducted. We will continue our technology advancements for our customers to complete transactions and access our records.
3 - Focusing on customer service; to all our customers. The Clerk provides direct administrative support to the judges in court proceedings, the Circuit Court is our customer and so are the citizens of Pittsylvania County. I will work to create an ease in the way we process transactions and ensure the Clerk’s Office is a professional and effective place to do business.
Support the Staff of the office – to ensure the staff of the Clerk’s Office has the tools needed to provide efficient service to everyone who enters the office.
Digitizing Land Records – to continue the progress of digitizing land records through the Library of Virginia, allowing more accessibility and preservation of current and historic records.
Providing longevity and durability – with my age and the eight-year terms of the office, I hope to provide (if elected) a long-standing relationship with the public and continue the modernization of the office.
1. Increase pay for Deputy Clerks. It is important to improve pay to retain employees, boost morale, and increase productivity.
2. Continuing the preservation of records. There are some documents in the Clerk’s Office that are deteriorating. This may be the only link some people have to their past and it must be protected.
3. Making more of our services available online. COVID presented many obstacles that the Clerk’s Office was not prepared for. Offering more services online would be more convenient for citizens and increase office efficiency.
Wyatt: My three overall priorities are to be accessible to the public, both in person and digitally, provide great customer service, and run a top-notch government agency by building on what has worked in the past and making it even better for the future. These are most important because they incorporate my foundation principles of integrity, transparency, accountability, and maintaining the highest ethical standards. These priorities also ensure the Clerk’s office will provide great customer service by incorporating empathy, good communication and problem solving, while striving for excellence.