Why Gwen Tidwell Is The Best Candidate

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I’ve known Gwen Tidwell for close to 25 years, and am immensely proud of the hard work and dedication she has shown our community.  She is respected, honest, and has a solid, documented and proven track record of success, reliability and effectiveness in discharging her duties as Criminal Court clerk.  Here are but a few reasons she should remain as Hamilton County Criminal Court clerk:   

Gwen has 20 years’ experience as the Criminal Court clerk 

She manages the Hamilton County Criminal Clerk’s Office – open 24/7, with 64 employees who maintain the records for the five General Sessions Courts and the three Criminal Courts, and handle the paperwork for over 50,000 new cases each and every year. 

She has completely computerized the office's records, including digitizing all public records.   

She has created user-friendly access to court records by putting all criminal case information online and providing computers at the office for anyone to use.  This open and full public access to the courts' records ensures reliability and accountability of the court records.   As a result, the Hamilton County Criminal Clerk’s Office is now a model used by other municipalities in Tennessee. 

She has increased the efficiency of the criminal court clerk's office, and also that of other offices by sharing the digitized criminal data and documents with other criminal justice agencies such as federal, state and local probation offices, the District Attorney's Office, the Public Defender's Office, the Sheriff's Department, and the Chattanooga City Police Department.  This gives these other departments full access to criminal histories and records without having to contact the clerk's office or request paper copies. 

She was the first to begin a Delinquent Collection Department which is completely self-supporting and uses no tax dollars at all, while recognizing that criminals do not follow the law or rules, are often unemployed and unemployable, and are frequently incarcerated and thus unable to pay even if they were willing to pay these costs.  Because of hard work, her office has the highest collection percentage among criminal courts in the state – more than Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville.

She has saved tens of millions of dollars by being the first criminal court clerk to attempt to collect, and to actually collect, money from persons convicted of crimes and ordered to pay fines and court costs.  The savings is because the collection efforts have allowed her to not use any tax dollars for office salaries for 15 straight years. 

In addition to saving these millions of dollars above, she has collected over $70 million for state and local government to use for public safety and public education. 

She sought out and received federal grants to staff a designated domestic violence court which has improved awareness, information, and resources available for victims. 

She instituted measures to allow her offices to accept payments by credit and debit cards, which increased the ease and convenience for the public.

She opened an office at the jail that allows police officers to complete their paperwork there instead of transporting their prisoner to the clerk’s office in the courthouse, preparing the necessary paperwork, and then transporting the prisoner back to the jail for booking. This adds a layer of protection both for law enforcement professionals and the public, because the prisoner is now in a secured area while the officer prepares the paperwork to complete the arrest. Another safety aspect is that this allows our uniformed men and women to return to their duties quicker in order to protect and serve us. 

She was a part of the Blue Ribbon Committee that set up the magistrate system we currently use. This increases our safety because judicial officers are now available and easily accessible to law enforcement 24/7 to issue warrants, make probable cause determinations, and set bonds.

She is a single mother of three young men and a lifelong resident of Hamilton County; a graduate of Hixson High School, University of Tennessee, and University of Tennessee Law School; a licensed attorney who practiced in the criminal and sessions courts which she now manages and administers. 

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Gwen will to continue using technology to improve the clerk's office, to continue collecting money from those convicted of crimes, to continue saving tax dollars, and to continue running the most efficient office possible!  Hamilton County citizens, we should be honored she wants to continue to serve our community.  Let’s show up at the polls and show our appreciation and confidence in her.  Hamilton County citizens need her to continue as Criminal Court clerk.

Sheila Wilson



Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

One of the hardest things for me to do is to say "goodbye".  I had my retirement lunch Friday for being with the Telecommunications Department for Hamilton County government after a little over 10 years. My last day is this Tuesday, the 24th.  To some, it doesn't make any difference, but to me, from working on televisions in the 70s, on Oscilloscopes for Tektronics, ... (click for more)

Marc Gravitt Is The Best Choice For Register Of Deeds

I tell people that I’ve known Marc Gravitt, “since he was just pup”.  During my many years as CFO and executive vice president of what used to be Union Planters National Bank (now Regions Bank), I worked with Marc on many projects.  Most recently, serving for many years as the former CEO and president of the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee here in Chattanooga, ... (click for more)

TBI Puts Man Who Killed 4 At Waffle House On Its "10 Most Wanted" List

A man who killed four people and injured two others at a Waffle House near Nashville on Sunday morning is still on the loose and has been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list. He was identified as Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Ill., was arrested last year when he was in a restricted area at the White House in Washington, D.C. Reinking ... (click for more)

Dayton Teen Arrested After Running For Deputies On Highway 60; Passenger Caught With Drugs

Hamilton County Sheriff deputies caught up with a Dayton teen who drove off at a high rate of speed on Highway 60 on Sunday afternoon. A passenger in the vehicle was caught with drugs. At approximately  5 p.m. , deputies observed a car traveling south in the 7800 block of Highway 60 at a high rate of speed. The driver was improperly passing other vehicles by crossing ... (click for more)

Orange Overwhelms White, 34-7, In Tennessee Spring Game

KNOXVILLE – After almost a month of spring camp and four quarters of ones versus twos, one glaring question remains: how much will the fall arrival of graduate transfer Keller Chryst change the dynamic of the battle for starting quarterback?   While new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt was calling for an electric atmosphere at Saturday’s Orange and White game, the ... (click for more)

Stoker, Tate Prevail In 50th Chickamauga Chase 15K

They couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day weather-wise for the oldest and longest running race on the Chattanooga Track Club’s schedule. Temperatures were cool, but not cold, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.   Add to that the fact there was very little wind and you have perfect conditions for the 50 th Annual Chickamauga Chase. A lot has changed with this ... (click for more)