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La Gaceta Endorses Stuart for Clerk of the Circuit Court

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga
Originally published July 31, 2020

Pat Frank is retiring as clerk and from a lifetime of public service to this county and state. Two well-known Democrats want to fill her big shoes – Kevin Beckner and Cindy Stuart. This race has no Republicans, no party affiliated candidates or write-ins running. Because of this, all voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote in this Democratic primary race.
Kevin Beckner is a former two-term county commissioner and the former head of the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board. He wants to build on the advances Pat Frank has made in technology, going paperless and customer service. He feels he can make the relationship between County government and the clerk’s office more collaborative and efficient.
Beckner is a smart, prepared and compassionate public servant and would make a great clerk, but our choice is Cindy Stuart.
Stuart is a current School Board member serving her second term. She decided after receiving support from Pat Frank that she would forgo an easy reelection campaign for School Board and instead give voters a choice between her and Beckner for clerk of the court.
Stuart has proven on the School Board she is up for big challenges, able to work with people on opposite sides of issues and brave enough to speak truth to power.
Stuart, like Beckner, speaks highly of the office Pat Frank built but both know there is still more to do. The clerk’s office, because of the Florida Legislature, is starved for money and is too dependent on funding from fees on transactions through the office, such as traffic tickets and foreclosures. She knows to fund needed improvements in the office, she’ll need to find ways to increase revenue.
She wants to find better ways to handle the weekly jury pool, which is very inconvenient and confusing to those called up and most often sent home without serving on a jury. She wants to explore moving some services to the Plant City Courthouse that would allow the court to handle a wider variety of cases. She also wants to expand online services. Stuart’s time on the School Board taught her the importance of customer service and honed her skills in creating change in a large bureaucracy.
La Gaceta endorses Cindy Stuart for Clerk of the Circuit Court

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