Western Wayne News is contacting local candidates seeking election this fall in contested races to request they answer a questionnaire (all candidates for the same office receive the same questions). They were asked the following questions:
1. What do you see as the main responsibilities for this office?
2. What experience makes you the best clerk candidate in order to move our community forward?
3. As most voters have seen, the pandemic has changed the way we live and work, and many voters might admit that being forced to look at things
through a different lens has been good. What has been revealed by the pandemic that will or should change the way the clerk’s office looks at doing business? What stakeholders should be involved in the changes, if you deem any necessary?
4. Please describe any experience you have in leading during a time of change and include related challenges and outcomes.
5. In the context of leading change, are there additional priorities you will have for this office?
Town of residence: Richmond
Education/training obtained: 1975 Graduate of Richmond High School, some college business courses.
Work experience: I began my career in public service in 1984 as an Exemption Clerk in the Wayne County Auditor’s Office. In 1989 I served as the first Jail Secretary in the Jail Division, and later was promoted to the Sheriff’s Executive Assistant & Civil Process Supervisor in the Enforcement Division. In 1996 I moved to the Mayor’s office and served as the Mayor’s Executive Coordinator. In 2001, I was honored to fill the position of District Constituent Services Representative for 6th District US Congressman Mike Pence and managed the Richmond district office. When Representative Luke Messer was elected, I continued to manage the Richmond District office until December 31, 2013. On January 1st, I was appointed by a Republican Caucus to finish the unfulfilled term of the resigning Clerk of Courts.
Political experience: The Clerk is the only political office I have ran for, though I have worked in several political offices. The first 3 years that I served as Clerk, I was appointed by a Republican Caucus and not elected by the voters.
Community involvement: I am an active member of Oak Park Church and several women’s groups.
Contact information that may be shared with the public (phone number, email, etc.)
P.O. Box 70, Richmond IN 47375
1. The Clerk wears many hats. The Clerk administers the official court records for all civil and criminal court cases, small claims cases, and traffic cases with jurisdiction in Wayne County. The Clerk conducts all local elections, including absentee voting, poll worker training, candidate filings and equipment set-up and testing. The Clerk is responsible for processing marriage applications and marriage licenses. The clerk prepares notary certifications, administers oaths, collects judgments on court cases and collects and distributes child support payments. The Clerk also archives all state income tax warrants and unemployment tax warrants. Files the bonds of numerous public officials, bail bond agents and other miscellaneous records including genealogy and public records requests.
2. My experience and knowledge of all the aspects of the Clerk’s office. As Clerk, I am a member of the Association of Circuit Court Clerks of Indiana and serve on the audit and legislative committees. Additionally I serve on the Indiana Supreme Court Records Management Committee, Wayne County Election Board, Wayne County Courthouse Security Committee, Wayne County Public Records Commission and a member of the Indiana Voters Registration Association. I have worked with our local judges and state court technology to bring a new court management system to Wayne County, and the ability to file cases electronically. I’ve made positive changes and reorganized positions to meet council’s request to trim our budget. I feel that my experience in all these areas allows making continued improvements at a productive pace. My knowledge and experience, serving with honesty and integrity has given the public confidence in my abilities to continue serving as the Clerk of Courts.
3. As the Clerk of Wayne County, I and my staff are dedicated to delivering the highest level of service to our local residents. We are committed to providing friendly, honest and efficient quality services on a consistent basis to all persons that are served by the Clerk’s main office, Small Claims/Traffic and Voters Registration office. In these uncertain times, we will continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC, local Health Department, Wayne County Commissioners and the Indiana Election Division. We have been forced to learn new ways to continue to serve both the courts and the public as efficiently as possible.
4. It has been a challenge to bring in a new court management system that is designed to serve the entire state rather than designed solely for Wayne County. The new system not only affects how we process court cases, but it also changes the way we process the financial receipts and disbursements. It has ultimately turned out to be the best change we could have brought to our courthouse. Electronic filings have eliminated the need for additional storage areas for files. We had literally outgrown the basement of the courthouse where our files are stored, waiting to be microfilmed.
5. It is my goal, during my next term, to get as many of the records and files transferred to an electronic file and microfilmed. We have hundreds of thousands of files that can be scanned. Now that we no longer have to maintain paper files, file clerks will be able to start scanning the paper files. An additional priority that I have, is that we obtain new election equipment with a voter verifiable paper trail. I am continuing to work with the Indiana Secretary of State to soon accomplish this effort at no cost to Wayne County taxpayers. It is my privilege to serve as your Clerk, and I would appreciate your vote on November 3rd.
Christella Yvonne Washington
Town of residence: Richmond, IN
Associates and Bachelors degrees from Indiana University, Behavioral Sciences and Communications concentrations
Rhema Bible College, Practical Ministry diploma with international missions concentration
Work experience: media, insurance, higher education, business, human services, government
Political experience: Completed two previous election cycles as a local candidate
NAACP local chapter
Rhema Alumni Association
Earlham College EPIC Grand Challenge, Judge and Community Connector
Ombuds Council, Earlham College
Employee Council, Earlham College
Owner/Operator Heaven’s Helping Hands Child Care
Richmond Christian Academy Board Member
The Victorious Women’s Conference Co-host
Home School Educator
Bible Study Fellowship International
Strategic Management Core Process Committee
Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee
CHOSEN Annual Ministers & Church Leaders planning committee and conference speaker
Staff Council Chair, Indiana University East
Newsletter Coordinator, Fairview Neighborhood Association
Affirmative Action/Multicultural Affairs Committee
Indiana Red Ribbon Drug Prevention Campaign
Campus Climate Committee, Indiana University East
President’s Minority Attainment Council for Indiana University
African-American History Month Coordinator
Community Builders study Circles on Race Relations
Leadership Wayne County
Richmond-Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Community Relations Committee
Contact information that may be shared with the public (phone number, email, etc.)
1. The clerk’s office performs several administrative functions related to maintaining accurate historical accounts of all county court records including:
- Non-partisan administration of state election law
- Administrator to judiciary
- Receives filings of candidacy from persons seeking public offices
- Issues certificates of election to successful candidates
- Ensure that elections run smoothly and results are recorded accurately and in a timely manner
- Maintaining all records of pleadings, motions, papers, evidence and court rulings of the court
- Issues all summonses and subpoenas to witnesses ordering them to appear in court
- Issues marriage licenses
- Maintains oaths of offices
- Keeps records of all judgments, orders and decrees of the court
- Certifies and attest to complete transcripts of court proceedings involving title to property
- The imposition of prison sentences and all court cases where a complete court record is required
- In the presence of the jury commissioners, the clerk draws the names of prospective jurors for juries and issues summons to those whose names were drawn.
- Collects court costs, fines, and money judgments levied by the court and sends the money to the person entitled to the judgement.
- Collection and disbursement of child support payments
2. Media experience stressed the importance of creating documents that are easy to follow and understand which will be a top priority for the communications coming out of the clerk’s office.
Working as a team member in an insurance office, I embraced cross-training and the consistency created by having access to comprehensive instructions detailing how each task was to be completed. I also acquired the skills to balance a $400-600K daily paid report to the penny.
My career in sales and marketing taught me how to present ideas and information in relevant ways to various stakeholders and the power of working with diverse teams to increase personal and corporate income streams.
As a partner with the state of Indiana, I was required to adhere to fluctuating state guidelines. As a career counselor, I developed the ability to help people identify their skills and match those with the work that would be required of them in order to help them achieve vocational wellness.
In higher education, working collaboratively with constituent groups to meet objectives that benefit the community helped me understand that being able to see the big picture is what produces effective solutions to current problems.
3. The pandemic has been devasting on many levels and this crisis has allowed a larger portion of society to experience exactly what people living in poverty experience every day.
Personal safety, scarcity of resources, unreliable transportation, limited access to child care, fragmented delivery of educational services, and fear of the unknown have had a dramatic psychological impact on even the healthiest most stable families that I know.
Human beings require a tremendous amount of love, support, and affirmation. When we don’t receive the mental and emotional nurturing we need, most of us tend to act out in different ways. As the Wayne County Clerk, I would encourage and foster a culture of care that recognizes the fact that every person that comes through the door is valuable and should be treated with respect regardless of the circumstances that bring them into the building.
People are the true resources and we move forward as a city, township, county and state by acknowledging that fact and governing accordingly.
Voting should be safe, simple, accessible and reliable. As clerk, I would encourage voters to do their research which would enable them to vote with confidence knowing that their voice will be heard.
4. At one point a Chancellor received a terrible review and was in danger of being removed. I was asked to become a member of the committee charged with turning this situation around.
Our team conducted personal interviews with 400-500 people on campus to get to the root of the problem. As the data came in, we recognized and documented common themes, and then developed strategies to address each theme.
Due to the campus climate, the most common response was that people did not feel appreciated or heard within their departments or by the administration.
Appropriate committees were formed, non-existing offices were developed, and critical appointments were made in time to turn the tide before the end of the probation period. The Chancellor was able to retain his position and retire from that university with his reputation intact.
Experience has taught me that change is the only thing that is constant and as your clerk, I would lead based on this model: gather the facts, seek feedback from those who are impacted by the issue, accurately assess the situation, make decisions based on thoughtful discernment and analysis of the data that has been provided in an attempt to establish a win-win for everyone.
5. I dedicated a portion of my career to becoming an effective career counselor during several large manufacturing shut downs in our area. My strengths are being able to help people identify where they fit within organizations and helping them flourish in their career development through self-study or by taking advantage of professional development opportunities.
This is a critical component because people who do not understand who they are or what they are supposed to do in life tend to believe that causing unnecessary problems for others is their purpose.
The overall goal is to create a healthy work or business culture. Most of the people I know are hurting and overwhelmed in various ways due to the effects of the pandemic, global unrest, and climate instabilities. If people choose to invest their time and talent into a job or developing a business, that job or business should provide some level of fulfillment in addition to a pay check.
“A healthy workplace culture is defined as the environment that you create for your employees. It is the mix of your organization’s leadership, values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors and attitudes that contribute to the emotional and relational environment of your workplace.” (Sidekicker.com)