ELECTION 2022: Q&A – Candidates for Clerk of Court
Published 3:44 pm Monday, October 24, 2022
Editor’s Note: For coverage of the primary election, The Stanly News & Press sent questions to each group of candidates. We limited their responses to 200 words per answer. Answers appear as is, with the exception of editing for grammatical/ spelling errors or length. This allows potential voters to see the candidates through their own words and gives equal opportunity for the candidates to respond.
Clerk of Superior Court
1. Tell me a little about your background, including any relevant experience within the judicial system?
Efird: I graduated from Pfeiffer University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and began my career with the North Carolina Judicial Branch nearly 22 years ago.
I’m currently the administrative assistant to the District Attorney of Prosecutorial District 28, a leadership role within the court system I have maintained since 2007.
I oversee the day to day operations of the District Attorney’s Office, as well as directly supervise non-attorney staff. I work directly with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) daily. I understand the human resources role that is needed on the local level as it pertains to judicial branch employees.
The operating systems within the clerk’s office are the same systems I currently use in the District Attorney’s Office. I know how to apply North Carolina General Statutes to a given situation in the courts and abide by the laws of North Carolina.
Lowder: I have been working in the criminal justice and judicial system for the past 37.5 years. I worked as a sheriff deputy and as county magistrate. I now have the great privilege of working as chief magistrate for Stanly County. I’ve worked with both Democrat and Republic judges and sheriffs. I started my career in the Sheriff’s Office under the late Ralph Lee McSwain, who was sheriff of Stanly County for 32 years.
In November of 2002 I began my career as a county magistrate having my nomination submitted by the late David R Fisher.
My first appointment came under retired Appellate Court Judge Sanford Steelman.
During my tenure with the magistrate’s office, I received over 100 hours of continuing legal education, mandated by the NC Courts System, which includes legal updates, court procedure protocol, involuntary commitment procedures, and basic, intermediate and advanced small claims court law.
As a duty of the magistrate of Stanly County, I have been assigned to adjudicate court from 2005 to the present having adjudicated over 5,000 cases. My experience as magistrate is similar in nature to those of the Clerk of Court as I perform not only criminal processes, but civil as well.
2. Why do you think you are the most qualified candidate for the position?
Efird: I have given my professional career to the court system of the State of North Carolina. I was recently acknowledged by North Carolina Chief Justice Paul Newby for my years of service and the dedication I have shown.
My passion for the court system has always been very evident in my work. I take great pride in working for the court system and while there are areas that it could be improved through legislation, it is the best system in the world.
I believe my education and experience speaks for itself. I have been successful in doing great things in my current role as the administrative assistant to the District Attorney and our Prosecutorial District.
In order to succeed, no matter the profession, you must be willing to be innovative and find ways to be more effective and efficient, creating an overall better work product.
My background proves that I have done just this in the District Attorney’s Office, and without a doubt will do the same for the Clerk’s office.
Lowder: Due to my past 37.5 years in the criminal justice and judicial systems, I have the knowledge and experience necessary to fulfill the duties of Clerk of Court for Stanly County.
I have the professional knowledge to maintain court records, adjudicate estates, judge over probate, adoptions and mental competency hearings, store and maintain criminal and civil files. The duties of the Clerk of Court are similar to those of magistrate.
As both law enforcement and magistrate, I understand the importance of competent and professional integrity in the performance of my duties.
3. If elected, what areas would you focus on?
Efird: As the Clerk, it is imperative that I not allow one area over another to have more focus. All the divisions in the Clerk of Courts office are equally important to the overall success of our local court system.
I will focus on all areas to determine if there is adequate staffing for the work load. I will raise the standard of customer service, ensure that staff is fully trained and find ways to improve efficiency of our work product while also maintaining a great work environment-as well as high office morale.
Lowder: As Clerk of Court, my first duty would be to provide excellent customer service to the residents of Stanly County. It is important that the Clerk’s office serve with integrity and professionalism as they perform their service to the residents of Stanly County.
I would maintain and increase the education of the deputy and assistant clerks through advanced training, software and procedures. I would ensure the staff of the Clerk’s office are educated on all updates of the Constitution of the United States and the State of N.C.
4. Would there be anything you would change about the role of clerk?
Efird: The North Carolina General Statutes clearly defines the role of the Clerk of Court in all its proceedings.
When elected it will be my duty to act within the scope of the law, upholding my oath of office. As a leader/manager of a large office, I will, however, be able to add some of my own personal managerial skills to the office.
Lowder: The duties of the Clerk of Court are constitutionally mandated with each requirement set by the general statutes of the State of North Carolina.
I will continue to provide the professionalism that the two previous Clerks have provided through over 40 years of service. I would be proud to continue to serve the residents of Stanly County for the next four years.