How many citizens actually know what the functions and responsibilities of the Criminal Court clerk’s office are? It’s not a loaded question, most people don’t know. The clerk operates behind the scenes maintaining records and making sure the correct documentation is in front of the correct judge when the case comes to court. This is a Constitutional requirement of the office.
Gwen Tidwell is a licensed Tennessee attorney and this brings up another Constitutional issue. Should any of the sitting judges be incapacitated due to illness, natural disaster or terrorism Mrs. Tidwell is bound by the Constitution to act as judge should none of the others be able to carry out their duties. So you see being an attorney with trial experience could prove invaluable under these circumstances. There is more than meets the eye to this elected position.
Imagine if you will that county government in the area of court operations is like a wagon wheel. The district attorney’s office, the judges, the public defender’s office, the victims, the offenders, the witnesses, CADAS, victim rights organizations and an assortment of other agencies all make up the spokes of this wheel. The Criminal Court clerk’s office is the hub, the center where all the agencies and their paperwork meet. She coordinates all of this paper and makes sure it is routed to the right places. Mrs. Tidwell maintains a delicate balance between all of these different entities, all of whom require different levels of assistance and cooperation.
Among other duties of Mrs. Tidwell is that she pools and seats juries, subpoenas victims and witnesses. She also collects fees and fines levied by the judges and provides a plethora of other services to the public and government that largely go unheralded
Why should we re-elect Gwen Tidwell? Honesty, integrity, experience, fiscal responsibility and compassion. Under Mrs. Tidwell’s tenure the Criminal Court clerk’s office has maintained an unblemished record of transparency and trust, operating in the background quietly and professionally. Mrs. Tidwell’s law degree gives her valuable insight into the complex environment in which she operates. Experience, 20 years of holding this office speaks volumes. Twenty years of paying her employees from fines and costs the court generates and not tax dollars. Twenty years of having the smallest budget of any county department. Twenty years of not asking the County Commission for operating cost increases. Twenty years of returning unused money to the commissioners, our money. I would call that fiscal responsibility.
Compassion, all one has to do is talk to Gwen for five minutes and you will see that she genuinely cares about people. Not just her family or her employees and their families, but every person who walks through her door. She will listen, offer solutions or be able to direct you to someone who can help you with any problem you may have. Mrs. Tidwell has an open door policy to all citizens and chances are if you call she will answer the phone or call you right back.
Aug. 7 when your scanning the ballot and thinking about voting along party line because your family has done that way for generations, remember you are voting for the person who can best do the job, not a party. Should none of the above admirable personality traits appeal to you, then vote using the old adage, “If it is not broke, then don’t fix it.” Keep money in our pockets and taxes low by voting to keep Mrs. Gwen Tidwell in the job she does so well.
Mr. Dean, if you have any fresh ideas as how to operate the office more efficiently, now is the time to enumerate them.
James Michael Plemmons
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Several years ago my family was faced with a crisis involving my daughter. Personally I had never been involved with the Hamilton County court system, or even been to court. So I turned to my friend Gwen Tidwell, the Criminal Court clerk. Gwen stepped in on my behalf and lead me through the land mines, and thoroughly explained the process that I was facing. Her caring nature and compassion rose to the top and she stayed by my side through the worst ordeal of my life.
Folks, there comes a time when you just have to put the politics out of the picture and do the right thing. Being an elected official requires not only that they know there job, and serve the public well, but the test comes when they go beyond the job description, and their “ heart” takes over.
Gwen Tidwell has a big heart, full of compassion, that she practices each day in her tough job as Criminal Court clerk. I am looking forward to casting my vote today for my caring friend, Gwen Tidwell.
W.L. Bubba Ricketts