Due to the social distancing guidelines, we have converted our traditional AllOnGeorgia candidate video interviews into short questionnaires. Each candidate in the race was provided an identical questionnaire with the same deadline. Answers were not edited in any way.
The Primary Election was moved to June 9th.
The last day to register to vote in the primary is May 11th.
Early voting begins May 18th.
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Please provide a brief bio on yourself
My name is Paige Dasher Mulligan, and I am seeking the office of Clerk of Courts of Tattnall County in the June 9, 2020, Republican Primary. I have served as a Deputy Clerk under the past three Clerks: Sherry Bland, Debbie Crews, and Billie Rewis, who originally hired me in 1988. I am a native and lifelong resident of Tattnall County. My husband, Mike A. Mulligan, is a former livestock feed salesman with the MoorMan Manufacturing Company and is presently in the rental property business, while also operating a small sheep farm. We have two children, Dylan, who is an attorney practicing in Glennville, and Faith, who is employed with the Glennville Bank. I am the daughter of Pam Durrence Dasher and the late Gerald Walter Dasher and the daughter-in-law of the late Ed and Edna Belle Rogers Mulligan.
My family and I are lifelong members of Glennville United Methodist Church, where I presently serve on the Board of Trustees and the Church Parsonage Committee. Through the years, I have also taught Sunday school and played an active role in the church youth, including attending a youth mission trip. My church and my faith are an important part of my life.
What experience do you have that properly equips you for the position of Clerk of Court?
I began my career in the Clerk’s office in 1988 when I was hired by Mrs. Billie Dutton Kennedy Rewis and served under her until 1994, when Mrs. Billie retired, and Debbie Crews became Clerk. I then worked for Debbie until 1996, when I chose to be a stay at home mother and raise my two children. I returned in 2014 and continued working for Debbie Crews and then the present Clerk, Sherry Bland. The Clerk must have detailed knowledge of every aspect of the office. During my time as Deputy Clerk, I have gained experience in nearly every area of our office’s responsibilities. I have handled the office’s real estate records throughout all of my years as Deputy Clerk and have most recently begun handling the office’s bookkeeping and accounting.
In addition to my years of training, I believe that what distinguishes me as the correct choice for Clerk of Courts is my strong work ethic. As far as my personal work ethics go, I always maintain a sense of responsibility by being present, on time, productive, organized, self-disciplined, honest, and respectful; by working as a team with my co-workers; and by treating the office like it is my own business.
If elected, I pledge to maintain the same level of diligence, professionalism, and integrity which I have exhibited as Deputy Clerk.
How do you view the day-to-day role of the Clerk of Court? (The balance between managing the office, working with other elected officials, and general public servant work; daily duties and responsibilities; etc.)
Mrs. Billie taught me the importance of operating an efficient, professional office balanced with a close working relationship and friendship with employees. Everyone in the office must contribute their part to the workload if the office is to run efficiently. Each employee has strengths and weaknesses, and the Clerk should identify those when assigning duties. The Clerk and her employees must at all times exemplify professionalism, dependability, and confidentiality. I feel that it is also very important to implement a system of checks and balances to ensure that every member of the office is held accountable for their assigned duties and their actions.
Working with Other Elected Officials
One of the Clerk’s primary duties is to assist superior, state, and juvenile court judges and the sheriff in running an efficient and dignified court system. Our courts cannot function, and our elected officers of the courts cannot perform their duties without an effective Clerk of Courts.
The Clerk of Courts must also be accountable to our county commissioners by maintaining a balanced and economical budget. The Clerk is a steward of the taxpayers’ money. I will always be efficient in my purchases and budgeting for the office. I am mindful that money spent in my office is taxpayers’ money; therefore, I will spend money wisely and economically as if it were my own business. The Clerk’s office belongs to the citizens of Tattnall County.
While the Clerk must work with other elected officials, it is important to remember that, as an elected constitutional officer, the Clerk is independent of all other elected officials and therefore is ultimately responsible for the office, her own actions, and the conduct of her staff. The buck stops here.
Daily Duties and Responsibilities
The Clerk of Courts is, first and foremost, a public servant and should be respectful and accommodating to all citizens. I wish to serve my constituents in the manner in which I would expect to be served if I entered another public office. While the law prohibits the Clerk from giving legal advice to the public, as Clerk I will continue to assist attorneys and the public, including pro se litigants, to the greatest extent permitted by law.
What practices are in place in the Clerk’s Office that you think are important to carry over into a new administration?
I do not believe that an incoming Clerk should immediately overhaul the office with any radical changes. As time passes, there are sometimes ways to do things more effectively, but there is some merit to the statement that if something is working for you, then you do not have to fix it. Once in office, I will analyze the different facets of the office to determine which practices should remain in place and which should be changed. I feel that it is important that each Deputy Clerk has their own area of expertise, and I intend to continue helping them to develop a broader knowledge. At the same time, I intend to develop a program of cross-training each employee, so that each employee has a working understanding of the other employees’ duties.
How can the Tattnall County Clerk’s Office be more efficient?
Efficiency begins with the Clerk, and it is vital that the Clerk lead by example by conducting himself or herself in a professional manner by being present, being on time, and being knowledgeable of all areas of the office, with the understanding that it is not possible for one person to know or do everything. No Clerk may succeed without the ability to delegate responsibilities to an efficient staff. I intend to enhance our efficiency by having Deputy Clerks attend applicable training sessions in order to better assist the court system and the public.
In addition to teaching me the importance of running the Clerk’s office with efficiency, professionalism, and a strong work ethic, Mrs. Billie also taught me how to operate the office in a fun and lighthearted environment. Her attitude and outlook reflected how much she loved the Clerk’s office and her employees. Laughter is contagious and should be shared with others. Although I intend for my office to be a fun and pleasant working environment, the job must come first. When my deputies and I are on county time, we will be there to serve the taxpayers and not tend to our own personal affairs. Office time should be spent in a professional manner by completing assigned duties.
For example, spending time on social media, surfing the web, and running personal errands while on county time will not be permitted. In addition, as officers of the court and as public servants, the Clerk and Deputy Clerks must exhibit proper decorum at all times, whether in the courtroom or in the office.
How can the Clerk’s Office be more transparent about activities and finances?
Transparency of Office Activities —The Clerk of Courts is the primary custodian of most of Tattnall County’s public records — from land transactions to criminal and civil court proceedings. Most of this is public record and may be accessed by anyone. The Clerk has a duty to the public to assist in making these records available upon request to the greatest extent permitted by law.
However, many records in our office, in particular adoptions and juvenile records, are strictly confidential and may in no circumstances be shared with the public without a court order. Maintaining confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Even records which are open to the public (for example, divorce proceedings, foreclosures, and civil lawsuits, just to name a few) should not be broadcast to the public by a staff member. It is never acceptable for the Clerk or a Deputy to publicize or discuss court or office business or records outside of the office.
Transparency of Office Finances —All of our office’s finances are public record. We provide each Grand Jury with the last six months of our receipts and disbursements for them to examine, and the same records are available to the public at large upon request.
Clerk of Courts Debbie Crews served as our office’s bookkeeper for many years. Upon her retirement, she trained me to assume that important responsibility, and I am currently the only Deputy Clerk who holds this position. Each Deputy Clerk is responsible for receiving certain money; however, no individual — including the bookkeeper — is in total control of monies received and disbursed. Many checks and balances are in place to ensure that taxpayers’ money is secure.
What types of practices do you plan to implement to advance the office technologically?
Technology and laws change every year. Many changes in the Clerk’s office are guided or mandated by those two factors. One change which I intend to implement, if our budget permits, is to digitize and make available online the entirety of Tattnall County’s real estate records. Presently our digital records only reach back to 1990, and any search prior to that date requires an in-person visit to our vault. Having records accessible online is far more convenient to attorneys, title searchers, and other researchers, and saves parties from having to make a trip to the courthouse. During a time of crisis when individuals cannot access our vault in person, it is even more crucial than ever for more records to be available online.
As Clerk, I will work with attorneys, surveyors, paralegals, and other involved parties to respond to changing needs and technology in order to enable my office to meet the requirements of the ever-changing world in which we live.
Will any other employment or business venture in which you are vested present a conflict of interest for you as Clerk of Court? Please explain your answer.
The Clerk’s office is my sole occupation, and this will continue when I am Clerk. My family also operates a small farm and rental property business; however, I leave the management of these to my husband and two children.
Why do you want to be the next Clerk of Court of Tattnall County?
Serving as Clerk of Courts is an honor and a privilege bestowed by the voters of Tattnall County. I believe it is also a calling and should not be undertaken lightly. The title should be held only by one who is prepared to shoulder the burden and responsibility that this office carries. I am prepared to accept this responsibility. This has been my aspiration since 1988; and although I believe it is what my predecessors, my family, and many others would like for me to do, most importantly, it is what I wish to do.
I am deeply concerned about the future of this office and our county, and I want to ensure that the Clerk’s office is managed in the most effective manner possible by the most qualified candidate. Due to my experience, values, and work ethic, I believe that I am the best choice to be your next Clerk of Courts.
Is there anything else you would like the public to know about you?
My motto has always been the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you (Matthew 7:12). I attempt to apply this rule to every aspect of my life — business and personal — and it will guide my actions as Clerk of Courts.
My faith and prayer life are very important to me and have shaped me into the person I am today. I pray about every decision, both large and small, and allow God to guide me in every area of my life. He guided me in my decision to run for office; He is guiding me through this campaign; and He will guide me as Clerk of Courts.
It will be an honor to serve as Tattnall County’s next Clerk of Courts, and I humbly ask for your vote, your support, and your prayers. I would love to speak with you individually and answer your questions. You may contact me by telephone at (912) 237-2013 or visit my Facebook page to learn more at www.facebook.com/tattnallclerk.
If you need assistance registering to vote, voting by absentee, or with any other matter, please contact:
Tattnall County Elections Office: (912) 557-1839
Paige Mulligan: (912) 237-2013
Former Tattnall County Commission Chairman Jerry W. Burkhalter: (912) 237-9040