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Residents learn more about Clerk of Court candidates

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Monique Chamblee, a Democrat candidate for Camden County Clerk of Court, speaks at Saturday's Brunch With the Candidates hosted by the Camden County Senior Center.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, April 16, 2018

Candidates for Clerk of Superior Court in Camden — who will work closely with the public if elected to the position — had an opportunity to interact with the public during the Brunch with the Candidates forum at the Camden County Senior Center Saturday.

Incumbent Clerk of Court Paula Harrison, a Democrat, and Democratic challenger Monique Chamblee, and Republican Rhiana Srebro all are seeking the post. Harrison and Chamblee will vie for the party’s nomination in the primary on May 8 and Srebro will be on the ballot in November.

In her introductory statement, Harrison said she had worked in the office more than 33 years and had worked hard and been loyal and accountable. She said she listens to others and wants citizens to feel comfortable in their dealings with the office and to know that confidentiality will be treated as of utmost importance.

Most people are distraught when they deal with the office and she tries to provide them the best possible service, Harrison said.

Chamblee said she participates in a lot of activities in Camden. She said she has a servant’s heart and the clerk’s office is a good place to serve others.

The clerk’s office can help with genealogy and there are public terminals available for background checks, Chamblee said.

Chamblee said she would like to bring back student internships to the office.

Srebro said she’s not a native of Camden and understands that’s a big deal for a lot of people, but added she appreciates Camden all the more because she knows how different it is from life in larger cities.

Srebro said she wants to bring more technology to the clerk’s office.

During a question and answer session for the clerk candidates, Chamblee was asked why she left the clerk’s office. She said that at the time she left the state was not offering raises for court employees. In addition, she said, it was an at-will position and she didn’t want to be in a situation where she could lose her job.

Chamblee said she became the first female crime scene investigator at the Elizabeth City Police Department and enjoyed that work. But now she is ready to return to work in Camden County at the clerk’s office, she said.

“I just want the opportunity to give back to the county,” Chamblee said. She said her commitment to the county and its government is evidenced by her attendance at school board and county board of commissioners meetings.

Harrison responded to a question about why she wasn’t making more promotion opportunities available within the office by explaining that the office has only five employees, making it one of the smallest in the state, and that the available positions are determined by the funding the state provides. She said she can’t promote an employee if the funding is not available to pay the higher salary.

Srebro was asked about her education and training for the position. She explained that everywhere she had ever worked she had worked her way up from the bottom, including becoming a manager at Fairfield Inn. She said she also had done hospital IT (information technology) work.

Chamblee pointed out that the only requirement to be clerk of court is to be 21 years old and a high school graduate.

Harrison said that while specific experience in the clerk’s office is not required to do the job, she has learned something at every step in her career in the office.

Sheriff Rodney Meads and N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Jones, who will square off in the Republican Primary for sheriff. and Democrat Rick Trevena, an officer with the Norfolk, Va., Sheriff’s Office who is unopposed in the primary, all talked about their desire to serve as sheriff.

Jones said he would lead the department in a new and professional direction, Meads noted he had provided additional school coverage starting with the beginning of March, and Trevena said he would find a way to put a school resource officer in every school.

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