Weatherford Democrat

February 13, 2014

Q&A: The race for Parker County Clerk


Weatherford Democrat

— The WD recently sent questionnaires to the candidates in contested county races in the March 4 primary elections. The candidates were asked to provide background information and answers, in 300 words or less, to questions posed to them. Early voting begins Feb. 18. Today we look at the Republican primary candidates for county clerk Jeane Brunson and Paula Hawkins Durant. There is no Democratic opponent.

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Name: Jeane Brunson

Age: 62 years young

Occupation: County clerk and local registrar, Parker County, Texas.

Family: four grown children with successful careers – an accounting professor at a college in Colorado, a successful business owner, a teacher who just received her master’s degree and a computer programmer for a large company. I am blessed.

Educational background: University of Denver-Paralegal and Legal Assistant; Weatherford College-Computer Programming and Real Estate courses.

Professional affiliations/memberships: County & District Clerks Association of Texas, chair of Nominating Committee (past board of directors, Legislative Committee chair, finalist for Texas County Clerk of the Year; Memorial Committee chair); Parker County Bar Association.

Community involvement: East Parker County Chamber of Commerce, Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, Bush Legacy Republican Women of Weatherford, Parker County Republican Women; past Weatherford/Parker County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Legislative Committee; Parker County Committee on Aging Board of Directors; Rotary International; BPW – past president, Woman of the Year, Woman of Achievement; Garner ISD Board of Directors; Local Emergency Planning Committee chair; Emergency Food and Shelter Board chair; and 4-H leader.



Why do you believe you are the best candidate for the position of Parker County Clerk? Why should a voter cast their ballot for you in the March primary?

I’ve proven to be a dedicated public servant for all Parker County citizens as county clerk-local registrar for the past 22 years. Under my administration, all people are served in the most friendly, educated, efficient and economic manner possible.

I know and understand the laws and statutes to which the office of the county clerk must adhere and do not deviate from them. My reputation while serving the people of Parker County is that of dedication, integrity and conservative management. I will continue to promote these attributes in all my offices.

Under my supervision, the records and deeds office has advanced from hand-stamping documents and using an antiquated “National” cash register to a reliable, high-tech cashiering and recording system. I am the best candidate to be (re-)elected as your Parker County Clerk because I have the education, ability and proven experience in every arena of the offices managed by the county clerk. I have shown beyond a doubt I am very conservative and conscientious as to how our tax dollars are spent.

For 22 years, with the exception of a brief health sabbatical, I have been available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I have always been active in our community so I can stay in touch with people to understand their needs and expectations of the county clerk’s office. I respectfully ask voters to cast their ballot for integrity, honesty, proven leadership and 22 years on-the-job experience and vote to keep me, Jeane Brunson, your Parker County Clerk.



How would you describe the primary responsibilities of the position and the office?

The Parker County Clerk is responsible for five separate office locations with as many separate budgets. The county clerk is responsible for preparing and submitting each budget to the Commissioners Court for approval for the next fiscal year.

An important responsibility of the County Clerk is administrative and employee management. There are currently 22 full-time employees in the five separate offices. These offices are located in two buildings. Important functions of the records and deeds office include, but are not limited to, research and customer support, setting up the entire process for permanent retention all recorded legal public documents and land records, issuing marriage, death, and birth certificates, assumed name certificates, issuing brands and processing beer/liquor/wine applications.

The county clerk is an ex-officio member of Commissioners Court and must attend every called meeting and take and transcribe minutes of the meetings. The probate division of the county clerk’s office accepts for filing all probate and guardianship matters for the county court. Legal documents are prepared for service, court hearings and probating estates/wills. The clerk is trustee for trust accounts and large sums of money held for minors, wards or estates.

The clerk must be bondable. The county clerk is clerk for all civil and criminal matters heard in County Courts at Law 1 and 2. This requires a vast knowledge of the process and legal requirements for issuing citations, warrants, legal documents for numerous additional court matters.

We work in conjunction with the County Attorney’s office to support these courts. As you see, having legal and administrative experience as well as knowing and adhering to the statutes and laws is necessary to keep the court system running effectively and efficiently.



Is there a specific program or operational change you would make in the next four years to make the office more streamlined, cost- or performance-efficient and customer friendly?

My employees understand the meaning of customer service. We enjoy our jobs and it shows when serving the public and our customers. Parker County courts, as a whole, will be implementing a more effective electronic court system during the summer months of 2014. This system will enable the county clerk’s court offices to comply with laws regarding e-filing requirements to be operational on or before the Jan. 1, 2015, deadline.

By working together with the district clerk, the judges’ offices and the IT department for the good of the county, we can be certain this system performs as expected and is cost-effective for the county. I know properly educating employees to operate this system is monumental for success, so I will see to it adequate training is provided.

This system will provide several options to assist in streamlining the electronic process for court hearings, issuing documents, and filing cases by attorneys in a user friendly environment. It will also eliminate the need for so much paper, which is costly.

Is there any thing else you would like to accomplish within the clerk’s office in the next term if elected?

Several years ago, through the approval of Commissioners Court, I implemented a user fee, as allowed by law, to preserve the historical paper documents of Parker County. This fee was supported by a Supreme Court judge who, while researching his southern heritage, found Texas historical books and documents to be deteriorating with some soon to be beyond repair. Parker County’s books are no exception.

Knowing this endeavor would be a costly process, I saved this user fee until such time as enough money would be available to begin the archival process.

That time has come. With commissioner’s approval the project will begin in March 2014. The rich and priceless history of Parker County will be archived to preserve documents such as those signed by Charles Goodnight and others granted land by the  governor at that time. I am pleased this project will be completely funded without spending our tax dollars.

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Name: Paula Hawkins Durant

Age: 43

Occupation: Administrative assistant to the county clerk.

Family: I have been married to David Durant for 21 years. Our children are Blake, 21, and Bailey, 16.

Educational background: I graduated from Weatherford High School and attended Weatherford College.

Community involvement: I have always been active in youth projects such as PTA and multiple sport booster clubs. We are very involved with anything that has to do with our kids and their activities.



Why do you believe you are the best candidate for the position of Parker County Clerk? Why should a voter cast their ballot for you in the March primary?

As Parker County Clerk, I will be available to all citizens as well as my employees. I will act as a liaison between the courts, bail bondsman and attorneys. I will strive for efficiency in all my offices to make day to day transactions easier and more cost effective.



How would you describe the primary responsibilities of the position and the office?

This is a position that touches every citizen of Parker County. The county gives the task of maintaining the history of Parker County to the clerk through public records. We maintain your birth, death and marriage records, your brands, your business names and even your liquor license. We maintain your civil and minor criminal case files, your divorce records and adoptions.



Is there a specific program or operational change you would make in the next four years to make the office more streamlined, cost- or performance-efficient and customer friendly?

I grew up in the Information Age and I am an advocate for technology. The growth projections for Parker County are astounding. We are currently the 11th fastest-growing county in the U.S.!

The only way we can continue to serve the county well is to increase productivity. This means all our records need to be digitized and made online and kept completely up to date. Our staff needs to be trained and equipped with the latest software and technology to make accessing these records quick and efficient. We lag behind other counties of our size in our use of technology and as we grow this gap will only grow. Parker County needs a clerk the embraces technology and narrows our productivity gap. I will be that clerk.



Is there anything else you would like to accomplish within the clerk’s office in the next term if elected?

If elected to serve Parker County and its citizens, my top priority will be the accessibility of me as well as the records in the clerk’s possession. The citizens of Parker County need and deserve a full-time clerk.

I will strive for efficiency in all my offices which will include taking payments via debit and credit cards, as well as making all of the county clerks’ records available online and kept up to date. My personal cell phone number is on every sign, card and flier I have printed. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.