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


Policeman: Modern Day "Boogie Man"

As a child I was under the impression that a ghastly, grotesque creature had taken up residence in my bedroom closet, the proverbial “Boogie Man” I suppose.  This is not an uncommon thing among children and most likely to some fault of my own as I subjected myself to some pretty iconic 1980’s horror flicks. There were other kids in the neighborhood that not only claimed to ... (click for more)

Why Ferguson Matters In Chattanooga

The recent verdict in Ferguson has thrown race relations in the spotlight again. It is far too easy to get caught up in the debate as to who was right. But the plain fact is that the community lost, the police force lost and the nation lost. So why does Ferguson matter in Chattanooga? Because a police force mainly composed of whites got into a conflict with a community mainly ... (click for more)

Alecia Driggins Faces Multiple Charges After Robbery And Hit-And-Run In East Ridge

East Ridge Police arrived on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the East Ridge Flea Market at 6725 Ringgold Road in response to a reported pedestrian struck and hit and run incident. Once on the scene, police determined that the incident was actually a robbery. The victim advised police that a white woman claiming to be a police officer grabbed her purse and attempted to flee ... (click for more)

Police Blotter: Undercover Officer Nabs 2 Women Who Respond To Escort Service Ad; Swindle Involves One-Sided Copy Of $50 Bill

An undercover officer said two women reported to a motel on Shallowford Road after he responded to an escort service ad on Backpage. He said the women matched their photos in the ad. They agreed to "full service sex" for $260. The women, Holly Carney and Sabrina James, said they live at the Hamilton Inn. A search of their room there turned up meth, syringes, scales and ... (click for more)

Alcoa, A Prep Football Gold Standard, Up Next For Irish

Notre Dame almost had a crack at powerful Alcoa in the 2013 TSSAA football playoff semifinal round. But, in the quarterfinals, Alcoa beat Christian Academy of Knoxville, 42-14, but the Fighting Irish dropped a 19-10 decision to Upperman, which was crushed, 75-18, a week later by the Tornadoes. Alcoa clipped Christ Presbyterian Academy, 25-7, in the state championship game. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Women Shock No.4 Tennessee, 67-63

Before the season started some people across the country called Chattanooga women’s basketball coach Jim Foster crazy for scheduling three top 10 teams – Notre Dame (national runner-up) Stanford and Tennessee - before Christmas. After Wednesday night’s UTC shocking 67-63 home win against No.4 Tennessee before 4,160, those same folks might believe coach Foster is crazy like ... (click for more)