CONYERS -- Holly Bowie, the Republican Party nominee for Rockdale County's Clerk of Courts, describes the office as "the hub of the judicial system" and adds that presently, the hub isn't functioning at peak performance.
Bowie, who serves as the paralegal to local attorney Terry Massey and possesses some two decades of experience in the local legal field, will oppose Democrat incumbent Ruth Wilson in November's General Election. She believes the Clerk's Office can be operated more efficiently when led by a clerk with substantial legal seasoning.
"After (former Clerk of Courts) Joanne Caldwell retired, she left that office as one of the best in the state," said Bowie, who also spent 10 years as the county's director of legal affairs. "Unfortunately, there's someone in that office now that has no legal experience whatsoever and the legal community has realized there needs to be somebody in there who has legal experience, someone whose management style is needed to keep that office successful.
"The system now is somewhat broken. (Wilson) has made the office an island to itself and it's not. It's just one part of a system, and right now it's not working effectively as it should. I would like the opportunity to get in there and make it like it once was; the way (Caldwell) left it."
Bowie sees working as Clerk of Courts is a natural progression in her life as a public servant.
"Public service has always been something I've been very passionate about," she said. "There's something about giving back. By being an elected official you're serving and giving back to the community. To me, the clerk of courts is the epitome of public service it's a service position in a service office ... The difference between (Wilson) and myself is that I believe what I do and what I've proven in the last 20 years is not to benefit myself personally, but to benefit the citizens of this community. Everything I've done was in the interest of the county. I never thought about how I could gain personally from something."
Perhaps the biggest issue surrounding the clerk of courts race is the collection of passport fees by the clerk, who is allowed by law to retain the fees which amount to some $40,000 a year as personal income. After media reports detailed the scenario, Wilson said in the spring that she would no longer keep any fees for herself and would donate one-third of the funds to the county's general fund, one-third to her office for year-end bonuses and one-third to local charitable organizations.
Bowie said law or no law, she's already got a personal plan in place.
"In my opinion, 100 percent of that money should be dedicated to the operation of the office," she said. "It should go to help decrease the burden on the taxpayers it should not be used for personal income ... I can tell you what I'll do. Whether a law is ever passed or not, that money will be dedicated to the operation of the office. The budget can be offset by the amount of money that comes in for passports, which deceases the burden on taxpayers. It won't have an impact on me because I know what I'll be doing with it."
While on the campaign trail, Bowie touts the accomplishments Rockdale County realized when she worked as legal affairs director and interim chief of staff the restructuring of code enforcement, which led to a 90 percent increase in citations in the first year; implementing a 24-hour response line for code enforcement complaints; writing a policy for standards of professional conduct; and establishing an official records center for the courts.
Pointing to her background and willingness to serve, Bowie who said she's "been on a yearlong interview and I'm ready for the people in this community to hire me for the position" said, "I'm the person that will take this job personally because I have such a vested interest in serving others and serving the community and making sure I do the best job I can for the citizens. I hope to exceed their expectations. I put my all into everything I've done and I'll do it with this job as well. I hope the voters will give me the opportunity to serve this community like I have for the past 20 years. I'm looking forward to it."
For more information, visit www.bowieforclerk.com.