Anne Arundel courthouse Sun endorsements: Duckworth for clerk of court

Duckett, Furth and Schaffer for the Orphans' Court.

October 08, 1998

FOR MANY VOTERS, courthouse elections are the most confusing on the ballot. Most of these jobs don't affect their lives in the broad way that other elected representatives do. These courthouse officials don't make public policy, but they do provide a vital government service. If residents need to retrieve a land record, appear in court or probate a will, the performance of these people becomes extremely important.

The Circuit Court clerk is responsible for maintaining files in civil and criminal cases, compiling and maintaining county land records, collecting fines, issuing marriage licenses and frequently marrying couples.

Voters must choose between incumbent Robert P. Duckworth, a Republican, and his challenger, Democrat Karl H. Gordon. Mr. Duckworth, a deputy court clerk before his election in 1994, has done an admirable job in modernizing courthouse recordkeeping. He also oversaw the complex transfer of offices, files and records into the new courthouse in Annapolis. On the recent controversy involving a 13-year-old girl marrying the 29-year-old father of her child, it was Mr. Duckworth who, disturbed by the situation, alerted authorities and sought a legal ruling before he would allow the marriage.

Mr. Gordon, an attorney, possesses qualifications for the job, but not enough to dissuade us from recommending Mr. Duckworth's re-election.

The register of wills handles administrative matters related to wills, estates and taxes. GOP incumbent George M. Nutwell Jr. had no opposition in his party's primary or in the general election. He will begin his sixth term.

Orphans' Court judges approve estates and make rulings on contested wills. Republican incumbents Elaine M. Furth and Gail J. Schaffer have handled their duties in a fair and sensitive manner and deserve re-election. The third GOP candidate, Nancy Phelps, has extensive community and volunteer experience.

But for the third seat, we prefer Judith L. Duckett, a former judge who lost her seat in the 1994 Republican sweep of the county. She deserves to return to office. The other two Democrats are Jayne Asher Astle and Callie Matthews.

Tomorrow: State's attorney, sheriff

Pub Date: 10/08/98

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