Negative Campaign Shows Gwen Tidwell Is Best - And Response

Monday, July 28, 2014

I have managed numerous state and federal campaigns and have learned that negative campaigns are the tools of candidates who have nothing positive to offer.  

The best candidates are those who run on their records.  One such candidate is Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell.  She is running for re-election on a record which speaks volumes about her professionalism, her leadership skills and her commitment to serve the public honestly and fairly.  We should re-elect Gwen Tidwell based on her outstanding record.

Gwen oversees a staff of over 60, maintaining the records of Hamilton County’s three criminal courts and five criminal general sessions courts while following strict financial and legal regulations established by the State. Although not required by law, Gwen has made these records open and easily accessible to the public.  

Gwen runs her office efficiently. This is the 15th straight year in which she has not submitted a budget request to the County Commission to fund the salaries of her staff. The Criminal Court clerk office's salaries are fully funded by the fees and fines it collects.

 Being unfamiliar with the detailed mechanics of the criminal court clerk’s office, Gwen Tidwell's opponent Vince Dean has resorted to a negative campaign based on distortions and half-truths. If his purpose is to run a negative campaign, Gwen's opponent is succeeding. If it is to educate the voters on how he will improve the complex operations of the office he is seeking, he is failing.  In fact, Gwen's opponent offers no reason to replace a qualified public servant like Gwen Tidwell other than his own desire to return home from Nashville.  While I can understand why he may want to distance himself from Tennessee’s 108th General Assembly, Gwen's opponent appears woefully unfamiliar with the mechanics of the office which he is now seeking. 

Gwen Tidwell is a professional who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills as our Criminal Court clerk.  I will cast my vote for Gwen Tidwell and encourage you to do so as well.

Jim Hall

Signal Mountain

* * *

I feel it pertinent to correct a statement by Mr. Jim Hall in his opinion supporting current Criminal Court Clerk Tidwell.  “Although not required by law, Gwen has made these records open and easily accessible to the public.” 
Actually, Mr. Hall, it is required by law:
TCA 10-7-503.  Records open to public inspection
(2)  (A) All state, county and municipal records shall, at all times during business hours, which for public hospitals shall be during the business hours of their administrative offices, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen, unless otherwise provided by state law. 
To verify that this includes records of the courts I refer to a portion of an opinion posted on the official website for the Tennessee Office of Open Records.  You can read it in its entirety under Opinions 9-10
“The Tennessee Supreme Court in State v. Cawood, 134 S.W. 3d 159(Tenn. 2004) and the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Kersey v. Bratcher, 253 S.W. 3d 625(Tenn. Ct. App. 2007) opined as to the applicability of the Tennessee Public Records Act to the court records.  In both cases, the courts found the court files and exhibits are public records, unless placed under seal or protective order and court clerks, as the custodians of those records have a duty to provide public access to the records pursuant to the TPRA. Cawood, 134 S.W. 3d at 165; Bratcher, 253 S.W. 3d at 629.”
Vince Dean in his role as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives helped pass laws giving citizens easy access to all public records.  Understanding and executing the laws of the county and the state is critical in all elected positions and certainly in the Criminal Court Clerk Office. 
With that in mind, I urge you to cast your vote for a candidate that knows the laws, helped craft the laws, and enforced the laws in his service as a police officer.  Join me in electing Vince Dean to the office of Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk.

Frances Pope

* * *

One of the basics of the Southern way of life is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Gwen Tidwell is running a very efficient and helpful Circuit Court Clerk's Office. There is NO REASON to replace her. Her office, "Ain't Broke!"

John L. Odom


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