Cale says experience is her platform in race for Clerk of the Circuit Court

December 28, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

An Ellicott City woman who works as a court reporter has announced her candidacy for Clerk of the Circuit Court in Howard County, promising a "user-friendly" office for the public.

Leslie Jean Cale, a 36-year-old Democrat, is the first person to file candidacy papers with the county Board of Elections in the 1994 election for the clerk's office, a position now held by incumbent Margaret Rappaport.

The clerk oversees about 30 employees in an office that processes civil filings and criminal cases, issues a variety of permits and licenses, manages deeds and land records, and conducts courthouse weddings.

"This is not a steppingstone to another political office," said Ms. Cale, who is single. "I don't want to be a politician. I want this job, this time."

Ms. Cale, who filed for her candidacy last summer, said the foundation of her campaign platform is to establish a "user friendly" office where the public can conduct its business quickly and easily.

"I want people to feel comfortable going in there," Ms. Cale said. "When you walk up [to the counter], you'll get waited on."

The candidate said she intends to work with the Administration Office of the Courts to upgrade the computer system and increase the number of employees so people coming to the clerk's office don't have to wait to get services.

Ms. Cale promises, if elected, to work in each department of the clerk's office to learn each employee's job so she can determine if any changes are necessary.

She cites her experience in the courthouse as her top qualification for the clerk's job. She has been a court reporter for 9 1/2 years, taping judicial proceedings and preparing transcripts. She works now for Judge James Dudley.

Ms. Cale worked as a secretary-reporter for the Master in Chancery for six months, with duties that included scheduling juvenile and domestic cases.

She also was a legal secretary for two law firms for seven years before going to work at the courthouse.

"I understand how the office works," said Ms. Cale, who has an associate's degree in legal secretarial science from Howard Community College. "I understand how the system works. I've seen all the different sides."

Ms. Cale, a political newcomer, said she decided to seek the clerk's office because she did not want to see Ms. Rappaport be unopposed in a re-election bid.

Ms. Rappaport, a Republican elected in 1990, said she plans to file her candidacy papers for her re-election in February.

"I'm running on my track record, what I've accomplished here," said Ms. Rappaport, who unseated C. Merritt Pumphrey after 25 years in office.

Ms. Rappaport questioned whether Ms. Cale had the managerial and administrative skills to oversee the clerk's office.

Meanwhile, Ms. Cale said she doesn't believe Ms. Rappaport, a former Judge of the Orphans' Court, has the proper background in the criminal justice system to continue running the clerk's office.

Ms. Cale said she intends to run her campaign "very frugally."

She plans to attend community events, go door-to-door to meet voters, distribute fliers and bumper stickers and sponsor raffles to raise money.

"I don't have a name that people recognize," she said. "I knew I had to start early."

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