Incumbent Candidate for Circuit Court Clerk
I’m Debbie Shipp. It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Albemarle County for 39 years, the last eight years as Circuit Court Clerk. During this time we have made many improvements in order to better serve our citizens.
During my next term as your Clerk, I will ensure ongoing digitization of the records in our office. Our commitment to customer service will remain strong, and we will continue to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.
George Foresman, along with Jon Zug, has made some allegations against me that are misleading and perhaps even incorrect.
Some of these are: there have been 7 state investigations of the clerk’s office in the past 8 years, he has said that an “auditor came back to him” and told him “that he failed to mention that the clerk had been sanctioned”.
The “investigations” to which he refers are state audits. There have been 6 annual audits (required by statute) of the clerk’s office in the past 8 years. I will admit that there were problems noted in all of the audits. If one looks closely at the audit reports they will see that the peak of problems was 2 years after I took office. I learned from these as is evidenced by the gradual decrease of problems in subsequent years. The only investigation that I am aware of is one that I initiated myself after suspicions arose that one of the deputies was embezzling. I contacted the Auditor of Public Accounts and the Virginia State Police who discovered that she was in fact embezzling and she was prosecuted and convicted of that crime.
I spoke to an auditor regarding his statement and have been told, 1) “sanctioned” is not a term that the auditors use, and 2) that an auditor would not offer that information. I have determined that he is referring to the fact that I neglected to invest some trust fund monies in the time frame allotted by statute and was required to pay the lost interest on the monies into the fund. I know this has happened in other clerk’s office, it just may not have been included in their audit.
Some of the problems could have been avoided had the county funded a bookkeeper or chief deputy clerk position that had been requested since 2009. In April 2013 I hired the bookkeeper from Fluvanna Circuit Court on a temporary/part-time basis to assist me with the bookkeeping duties of the office. When the position for the chief deputy clerk was approved early 2014, I hired her away from Fluvanna County. It is evident from the last audit that this was a decision that should have been made earlier.
I have knowledge in and have worked in every area of the clerk’s office. None of my opponents have any experience in a clerk’s office nor any real idea of the work that is done there.
For continuing improvement, I ask for your vote on November 3.