Cyndi Pauwels brings solid experience to the Greene County Clerk of Courts race. After working in criminal justice and in the courts for many years as a police/fire dispatcher; as a deputy clerk at the municipal and federal court level (U.S. District Court in Toledo); and as a liaison between schools, social service agencies, law enforcement, and the Lucas County Juvenile Court, she understands the system at all levels. Pauwels offers a passionate commitment to justice and to community service in seeking this office, and is dedicated to public service and fiscal responsibility. She is tech-savvy and knows the efficient, secure use of technology is key to running any department effectively. Currently working as a college adjunct, Pauwels is also an author and the Assistant Director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. She and her husband of 40 years reside in Yellow Springs. They have two grown children, one grandson, two dogs, and eight chickens.
ICMS Automated Criminal Docketing Training
Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, Communications operator
National Institute of Corrections, Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons; Jail Operations
Antioch McGregor: BA, Humanities; MA, Creative Writing
The Clerk of Courts office is the official keeper of record for all county-level courts: civil, criminal, domestic, juvenile, and probate, as well as administrator for the Title Bureau. Accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency are, of course, key to all those offices. My 20 years’ experience in criminal justice and the courts have given me the hands-on background to oversee those duties effectively.
But the Clerk’s office isn’t a business; it’s peoples’ lives. By nature, most of us would find any court appearance to be stressful. The Clerk’s office is often the first point of contact for a court case, and as such, it needs to address the needs of each individual who appears – voluntarily or not – so that justice is accessible and applied equally and fairly.
When I began my tenure at the federal court in Toledo on the appeals docket, one of the first things I did was create an Access database to better track the caseload because nothing else was available tech-wise. By the end of my service, they were a test site for, and shortly thereafter became the first U.S. District to begin using, Electronic Case Filing (ECF) and the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system. Those systems are now used nationwide.
That was over 20 years ago, and while the Clerk of Courts office does use the CourtView system for public access (clunky, at best), it seems electronic filing is still a long way off for Greene County. Given current technology possibilities, that needs to be a priority.
Two concerns in particular that I’ve learned while campaigning: 1) It’s common knowledge in the Greene County legal community that the answers to important questions asked of the Clerk of Courts office vary day by day. That should not happen. 2) With the 2016 closing to two satellite title bureau offices, county residents must travel to Xenia to transfer an auto title for licensing, only to find the office hours do not coincide with the BMV right down the hall. There must be a better way to serve our community.
I’d also refer readers to my previous comment on technology.
I bring unparalleled knowledge and experience to the Clerk’s office.
In many ways, I’ve been training for this position since I was a Police Explorer in high school. I’ve served as a police and fire dispatcher for many years including in Cheyenne, Wyoming, when my husband was stationed at F.E. Warren AFB. I’ve booked female prisoners, accompanied on transports, and assisted in the jail, so I understand corrections. I’ve worked with juvenile court to help children in trouble get their lives back on track, so I can navigate social services. As in-house deputy court clerk, I certified affidavits and reports. And I spent more than six years as a deputy clerk in the federal courts handling first the appeals docket and then the civil and criminal caseload for several judges and magistrates, so I know court procedures at multiple levels.
Of all positions in local government, the Clerk of Court should be non-partisan. It’s not a legislative or policy-making office, and it shouldn’t be simply a stepping-stone in a political career. The court isn’t a business; it’s peoples’ lives. I’m the only candidate with the essential insight and understanding of how the court system works, and experience matters.
An urgent issue nationwide is bail reform. A recent study by the Ohio Department of Corrections found almost 35% of people in local jails like Greene County haven’t been convicted of anything. They just can’t make bail. Several bills are pending in Columbus to address that. And since Greene County is in the planning stages to build a new jail – at a projected cost of $40-50 million, we need to keep those issues, as well as the growing opioid epidemic, in mind and make sure the Commissioners build smarter, not just bigger. Pretrial release and treatment options must be part of the mix. The Clerk of Courts is a central part of the criminal justice system, and these are issues that will affect daily operations in the Clerk’s office as laws change.
And as noted above, technology needs will be an ever-present challenge.
Former Chief Deputy to Greene County Recorder Eric Sears, budget preparation, payroll management, office management, etc. Former Regional Liaison for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, representing the Office to Voter and County Boards of Elections. Former support staff to the Dayton Civil Mediation Center and the City of Dayton Department of Planning and Citizen Participation. Member of the Ohio Clerk of Courts Association, member of the association by-laws subcommittee. Member of the Village of Yellow Springs Planning Committee.
Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton. Master's Degree in Public Administration from the University of Dayton.
The Clerk of Court is responsible for all filing, docketing, imaging, archiving, and preserving all court pleadings for civil, felony criminal, and domestic relations cases in Greene County. The Clerk is also responsible for maintaining filings for the 2nd District Court of Appeals. Regarding these cases, the Clerk is subsequently responsible for the collection of all revenue related to court costs, bonds, fines, and forfeitures. Ohio Clerks further serve their Counties by issuing certificates of Title to any Ohio resident for their purchases of automobiles, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, motor/mobile homes, and watercraft.
The ultimate focus of this office is to keep the records of the Greene County Court of Common Pleas, to keep these records accurately and with public transparency. In our Office, our documents are imaged and indexed into a computer software program. This program must be continually maintained and updated in order to achieve accurate records. New technologies such as electronic filing have become very popular within the Judicial process and we must be mindful of these advances. While I was serving in the Recorder’s Office, I was tasked with creating a request for proposals for a new land records system to record and image Deeds, Mortgages, etc. The County Recorder received several bids in response to this request and ultimately asked if we could create a better system ourselves. I worked with our County’s Data Processing Department on this development, and after many months, we were able to design and develop a very efficient and user friendly land records system. In so doing, the County Recorder was able to save our Citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars in software purchasing, maintenance, service, etc. This is the same approach I have brought to the Clerk’s Office when regarding new technologies. If we have the resources within the County, we are obliged to investigate those options before using tax-payer dollars to fund these very expensive software purchases.
The Clerk's Office is currently running very effectively and efficiently. On the horizon however, adapting to advances in technology will aid our office in the day to day receipt, certification, and indexing of filings in both the Legal and Title Divisions. Implementing these new technologies thoughtfully and correctly in the future will help us better serve our Citizens.
I believe that my combination of education and career experience make me the ideal candidate for this position. During my years in Undergraduate and Graduate Studies at the University of Dayton, I was able to work with the Dayton Civil Mediation Center where I gained first hand experience with real life interactions between the Courts and the Public they serve. I also served with the Planning and Citizen Participation Department which helped me further understand the crucial relationship between Government and its Citizens. After completion of a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, I served with the Office of Ohio Secretary of State, working closely with twelve Boards of Elections and representing the Office to the voters therein. Subsequently, I was hired as Chief Deputy to the Greene County Recorder. Serving in that capacity for three years has left me with an intimate knowledge of our County operations procedures. The position afforded the opportunity to work closely with our esteemed Elected Officials and Directors who work diligently for our County everyday. With the retirement of former Clerk, Terri Mazur, I was unanimously appointed by our Greene County Commissioners, as well as the Republican Central Committee, a very humbling honor. Ms. Mazur dedicated many hours during the transition period and has passed on invaluable institutional knowledge. I have been in Office for nearly one year and we strive every day to run the most efficient and professional Office possible.
Ohio Issue #1 would drastically change the operations of the Clerk of Courts Legal Division, specifically, the Criminal Felony Division. Should the issue pass, the majority of drug cases we manage will never reach our Greene County Common Pleas Court. These cases would be treated as misdemeanors, and therefore, would by heard by either the Xenia or Fairborn Municipal Courts. Our Adult Probation Department, which we work very closely with daily, would no longer have the opportunity to work with these individuals and assist them on their road to recovery.
The State of Ohio will soon be implementing a change to Auto Titles. The new title will be larger in size to add more room for notarial certification, additional information, etc. I successfully lobbied for our County to be among the select few which will have the opportunity to test this new Title before they become standard and mandated. This will allow our citizens, as well as our staff, to provide feedback and to weigh on with the State on this important change to the Auto Titling process.