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


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Robert Stahl Would Serve East Ridge Well

The people of East Ridge would be well-served to elect Robert Stahl to the City Council.  People of Robert’s integrity and ability are needed at all levels of government.  I have known Robert Stahl for over 40 years and can attest to his credentials and qualifications to hold such an office. Robert is beyond a successful banker.  He is a family ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Firm Gets $1,010,000 Contract For Overseeing VW Expansion For New SUV Line

A Chattanooga firm is getting the contract for overseeing the construction work for the new SUV line at the Volkswagen plant. Officials said the EMJ Corporation has been selected for the project that will give a new surge of activity and employment at the plant at the Enterprise South Industrial Park. The work includes additions to the body shop and tech center and adding ... (click for more)

Man Airlifted To Erlanger After Early Morning Crash In Bradley County

Bradley County EMS responded to an early morning crash Thursday at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road in Charleston. Three ambulances and an EMS supervisor responded to the scene. There were three vehicles involved and one car left the roadway.   One adult man suffered serious injuries and it was determined that he needed ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Stays Alive In State Volleyball

SMYRNA, Tenn. – As the old saying goes, It ain’t over til it’s over. That appears to be the philosophy for the Signal Mountain volleyball team as they beat the Harpeth Lady Indians in the opening match here at Stewarts Creek High School in the second day of the state tournament. Contrary to other reports in Chattanooga, the Lady Eagles had a letdown in their second match on ... (click for more)

South Greene Ends Boyd-Buchanan's Bid For State Volleyball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Tears flowed like spill waters through the Chickamauga Dam locks. Players sobbed. Mothers cried. Grandmothers, as well. It was a tough ending to Boyd-Buchanan’s volleyball season. The Lady Bucs (33-16) fell to South Greene, 3-2, at Blackman High School and was eliminated from the TSSAA Class A state tournament on Thursday. The set scores ... (click for more)