The office of County Clerk and Sheriff are two of the most important positions in the county governmental structure. In this election cycle, both positions are being contested.
The two candidates for the office of County Clerk and Recorder are the incumbent, Kim Buchanan and the challenger, Bruce Tolley. In the race for Sheriff, incumbent Keith Brown faces challenger Mike Gribble.
Kim Buchanan, 45 years of age, is a lifelong resident of Saline County and the first woman ever to be elected as county clerk. After high school, Buchanan attended Southeastern Illinois College for two years then went to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale where she took degrees as a radiology technician and a bachelor"s degree in health care management and administration with a minor in psychology.
Elected in 2010 Buchanan threw herself into learning the intricacies of the position.
"There are so many aspects and nuances of this job," Buchanan said. "It was a challenge at first. But I have a wonderful staff, both past and present about whom I cannot speak highly enough. They really helped me get up to speed."
The office of County Clerk and Recorder handles every aspect of record keeping for the county except for court cases. Birth and death records, voter registration, land transactions and property records all fall under the offices authority. As well, Buchanan is responsible for all aspect of elections, from approving polling places through securing election judges to early voting.
Buchanan cites a number of accomplishments in her first term. One of her first and continuing successes was to promote cross-training of employees to improve productivity in the office. Buchanan also feels that she has been successful in keeping costs down for the public and staying under budget for the clerks office. Keeping costs down with the service vendors the office uses also has been a priority for Buchanan.
Voter registration has as well been a focus of Buchanan"s. She makes extra efforts to promote and facilitate registration of young people through the school systems.
"I've really tried to promote this by working closely with the schools in the county to promote voter registration for high school students," Buchanan stated.
In the near term future, Buchanan wants to bring greater access via computer to the records in her care. To set up a system that would allow the public access to public records to assist them in genealogy searches and research into their own document needs.
"One of my main goals has been to make the operation of this office open and transparent to the public," Buchanan said. "I feel that I have accomplished that. I jumped into this job and the community has supported me in my efforts. I'm doing the best job I can to serve all the people of Saline County. That's the oath I took when I was sworn in and I strive to fulfill that oath and the responsibilities of this office each and every day."
Buchanan is running on the Republican ticket.
Bruce Tolley, 54 years of age, was born in Mt. Vernon and has been a Harrisburg resident for most of his life.
Tolley attended Southeastern Illinois College earning a associates degree in general studies then went on to Murray State University where he took a bachelor"s degree in written communications. Tolley"s professional career has been in land titles and abstracts with the Sloan and Tolley Abstracters Inc. of Harrisburg. Sloan and Tolley Abstracters is now an independent consultant contractor for American Coal Company. Tolley has been endorsed by the local labor union 773, which represents Saline County employees.
Tolley is a three-term veteran of the Saline County Board and is currently a board member. First elected in 2006, Tolley has served on the Audit, Election, Judicial and Budget committees.
"I was Chairman of the budget committee for a number of years," Tolley said. "The budget committee deals with many of the issues related to the county clerks office."
Tolley feels that his work has brought him a great familiarity with the records and procedures in the county clerks office.
"I feel without question that I am the most qualified person to hold the position of county clerk," Tolley stated. "I have spent 20 years working with the records in that office, I understand the structure and requirements of the records keeping and I truly believe that I can bring experience and a steady hand to that office."
If elected, one of Tolley's first goals would be to work very hard at getting the county tax cycle pushed back towards mid-summer, rather then the end of the year around holidays as it stands currently.
"This problem with the tax cycle affect schools, businesses and homeowners," Tolley said. "This costs tax revenue to the entire county. You can't fix this in one fell swoop, you would have to back it up gradually, but it can and must be done."
Tolley also believes in the office being crystal clear to the public. Tolly feels that save for a few areas restricted by law, the public should have full access to the records.
"Ninety-eight percent of all the records in the county clerks office should be available to the public," Tolley stated.
Another goal would be retraining of the office workers. Tolley feels that he could make an improvement in the work atmosphere and efficiency of the work place. Tolley also desires to increase public access by computer to the records in the clerk"s office. He feels that a state mandate to do so is imminent and it would be better to find grants and funding now rather then deal with an unfunded mandate later.
Tolley pointed out that he resigned his position on the budget committee when he decided to run. The budget committee sets the salary for the county clerk. Tolley has also recently been abstaining from voting on the county budget, which controls funding for the clerks office.
"I have run a clean campaign, I don't want any question of impropriety to be raised," Tolley said. "I would not have run if I didn't feel I was the right person for the job. The more qualified individual."
Tolley is running on the Democratic ticket.