R.B. CHIPS SHORE, Republican
BIRTHPLACE: Bradenton, Manatee County
FAMILY: Married, Carol, 49 years; four daughters, ages 45, 43, 39, 37; four grandchildren.
EDUCATION: B.S. in economics and finance, Stetson University, 1963; participated in post-graduate studies at Stetson University College of Law; New York University Institute of Finance; Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University; and Florida Atlantic University, Institute for Municipal Finance Officers; Certified Municipal Clerk by the Municipal Clerks Organization and a Certified Clerk by the Supreme Court of Florida.
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Prior to being elected clerk, I worked as a Manatee National Bank loan officer and officer in the trust department; city clerk and treasurer, city of Bradenton.
FUN FACT: Updating the courthouse landscaping to bring back the natural native plants that were here when the courthouse was built.
What attributes do you bring to this office that separates you from your opponent?
The clerk and comptroller of Manatee County needs to be an experienced and competent clerk with formal education in finance and in the courts. I have the required experience, education and passion. I am running to further serve the citizens of Manatee County in this capacity.
What specific skills or experience do you have that qualifies you more than your opponent to serve as the chief auditor of the county government’s finances, the keeper of Manatee County’s public records and the clerk of the courts?
I would say beyond a doubt my skills have led to some of the accomplishments as your clerk and comptroller. I am responsible for the highest bond rating in the state for Manatee County, which has saved millions of dollars in interest for our taxpayers.
I have established a state-of-the-art paperless office that is used as a model by the Supreme Court of Florida for other counties.
I have developed a bench software application so judges can use the images of court files on the bench instead of the paper files. This innovation is being heralded by the National Center for State Courts and is being implemented in other states across the U.S.
Locally, a paperless office and courts system will save the citizens of Manatee County hundreds of thousands of dollars per year once it is fully established.
My Teen Court program has been a model for other counties. Teen Court is a diversionary program for first-time youthful offenders who admit their guilt; it saves the courts time and money. We also run the historical parks for the county educating our constituents to the rich history of Manatee County. The Florida Maritime Museum, the Manatee Historical Village, the Palmetto Historical Village and Agriculture Museum and the historical records library.
What do you see as the biggest challenges that will face the clerk of courts in the next two to three years, and how would you propose these challenges be addressed?
Our office is totally electronic with all records. The challenge is getting the judges to use it on the bench and getting attorneys to e-file. Also: upgrading to a new financial system. We have been on the same one for 15 years, and it is first generation upgrading to a new court management system. Our present one is 14 years old and cannot keep up with the growth we are experiencing.
We will address by updating these systems to the new generation programs.
Another challenge is the court budget; we will work with the Legislature and the courts to reduce costs through automation.
What will be your three top priorities if you are elected?
1) Upgrade to a new financial system
2) Upgrade to a modern court-record maintenance system
3) Keep funding intact for the office
Florida’s clerks of court and the Florida Supreme Court sometimes have clashed over what records should be made available online. If you were the ultimate decision maker on this issue, what information would you make public that is not now public online? What information would you to redact?
My office is the only clerk’s office in the state certified by the Supreme Court to have all records not prohibited for research online. We redact bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, social security numbers, etc. I would continue these.
What is your position on the publishing of local and state government’s public notices — should they continue to be required to published in newspapers; required to be in newspapers and online; or online only? Should the clerks’ websites be the purveyors and publishers of public notices? Why or why not?
I am very comfortable with the status quo; it has worked well and should be continued, especially since I pioneered the electronic public-notice system for the newspapers.
If elected, how will you make the office more economically efficient?
Technology in the office, both courts and finance.
What is your vision for the office of the Manatee Clerk of Courts?
To be the best clerk’s office in the state and to lead the nation in court innovation, which we are doing now and will continue to do.
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