The election is 10 months away, but already two candidates have announced their intentions to run for the Craig County Circuit Court Clerk’s position. According to local talk, several others are considering running for the Constitutional office that has an annual salary of more than $73,000.
Some of the attractions of the office are the annual salary of $73,304 as set by the Virginia Compensation Board, and the eight-year term, rather than four years for other Constitutional offices in Craig County and other counties and cities across the state.
Also, with the retirement of Clerk Peggy Bostic Dec. 31, it is the first time that the clerk’s position has been up for election in 16 years without a long-time incumbent clerk running.
So far, the candidates are new Clerk Sharon Braden, who was deputy clerk for 16 years and who is clerk through the remainder of 2010, and current Deputy Commissioner of the Revenue Danielle H. Snider.
Commissioner of the Revenue Elizabeth Huffman said last week she was considering running for the Circuit Court Clerk’s position, but on Monday, announced she had rethought the idea and plans to remain as commissioner.
“Being commissioner of the revenue was my dream, and being clerk of circuit court really isn’t,” Huffman said in a telephone interview Jan. 4. “I will be happy to stay commissioner of the revenue for as long as I can stay.”
Huffman said initially the main reason she considered running for circuit court clerk is because of a proposed change under Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s proposals up for vote by the Virginia General Assembly this term.
If that proposal passes, counties and cities could decide to do away with the elected constitutional offices of Commissioner of the Revenue and Treasurer, and replace the two functions with a local Director of Finance position that would have the powers and duties now given to the two offices.
Braden, 50, who was Deputy Circuit Court Clerk until she officially took over Jan. 1 from retiring Clerk Peggy Bostic, became clerk for the remainder of this calendar year until an election for the clerk’s seat can be held Nov. 2 for the remaining five years of Bostic’s eight-year term.
“I offer 16 years of experience and that 16 years will benefit me in the fact that this job is constantly changing in the laws and technology,” Braden said. “Having that experience will help me provide better service to the community,” she added.
A full feature on Braden ran in the Dec. 30 issue of The New Castle Record. She has been deputy clerk in that office since 1994, and a Certified Deputy Clerk since 1996.
The clerk’s office handles an enormous amount of work most Craig County residents don’t see. “It’s the hub of Craig County,” said Braden, who has been the primary clerk handling court functions, in addition to other responsibilities she and Deputy Clerk Kathy Martin do.
The office is responsible not only for recording land deeds, court judgments and marriage records, divorces, land disputes and on and on, “over 700 different duties,” Braden pointed out. “Everything is legal and you have to do it right.”
Braden has plans to apply for additional grants to bring the office forward with technology, she said, and is proud that deeds back to 1985 have been scanned and are available online, with wills and court judgments and some marriage records going on next.
Danielle H. Snider
Craig County native Danielle Huffman Snider, 33, said working in the Craig County Courthouse has been her dream ever since she was a student at Craig County High School.
“I applied for a job in the clerk’s office when I was a senior, and applied for the treasurer’s office later.”
She got that opportunity to work in the courthouse when she became a deputy commissioner of the revenue eight years ago. Snider earned the title of Master Deputy by meeting the qualifications set forth by the University of Virginia.
“My job in the commissioner’s office has given me much opportunity to work with the clerk’s office, giving me familiarity with that office,” she wrote in a prepared statement. “I feel that serving in my current position has given me experience and knowledge in local government and it is my desire to better serve the citizens of Craig County as a Constitutional officer.”
Snider went on to say, “I look at running for this position as an opportunity that may come around for me just once,” she said, referring to the clerk’s position opening up with Bostic’s retirement “If I’m fortunate enough to be the next clerk of the circuit court, I will work hard to maintain integrity and efficiency in the office.”
Snider has had a taste of running a constitutional office. She served as acting commissioner of the revenue from July 2003, when then-commissioner Rebecca Price resigned, until Huffman was elected and took office on Jan. 1, 2004.
Snider pointed out the experience helped her develop skills to run an office, to sign off on payroll, and also an opportunity to work with the Virginia State Compensation Board which oversees constitutional offices duties and benefits.
She said as a public servant, she knows the importance of a welcoming atmosphere, “and I will do what it takes to make people feel just that when they conduct business with the clerk’s office.”
Before she went to work in her current job in the commissioner of revenue’s office, Snider worked for Crest Uniform in Salem for seven years, “where I wore many hats.” She said she left that job because of the opportunity to work in her hometown. She began working when she was 15, Snider said, at Lawrence’s Best Way and the former Hot Dog Stand.
Snider graduated from CCHS in 1994, with honors and perfect attendance, she said. She is the daughter of Gary and Wilma Horn Huffman, and sister of Sammy Huffman and Lindsay Huffman and Tina Raines.
Snider and her husband, Tim, have two children: Dustin, 16, who is a CCHS junior, and Erin, 3.