By Joel Hall
After 15 years of experience, Clayton County Superior Court Clerk Linda Miller had plans on retiring at the end of this year, and passing the torch to her chief deputy clerk, Jacquline Wills. After Wills announced she wouldn't be running for the position, Miller decided to pick up the torch again, herself, and try to run with it for another four years.
About a week and a half ago, Miller decided to get back into the race for clerk of Clayton County Superior Court. Her decision to run alters the dynamics of the race, which has become filled with competitors, most of whom are running as Democrats.
Miller, 56, said she was inspired to seek re-election after her plans to bring in Wills as a successor were unsuccessful.
"[Wills] is the only one that had any experience," said Miller. "When she announced that she wasn't running, some people encouraged me to run, and that's what I'm doing.
"Plans that I was trying to make toward retirement weren't working," Miller added. "Everybody kept on telling me that I wasn't old enough, anyway. I really feel like I am blessed to have this job. I felt like the Lord had another chapter for me to do."
If Miller is re-elected, she would enter into her fifth, consecutive, four-year term as Superior Court Clerk. She said she wants to be re-elected in order to complete several ongoing projects, those of which include extending the history of Clayton County's online real estate records and making the court's deed-search system paperless.
"The title searchers now have to pull books to look up all the deeds, and I am trying to make it bookless, so we can save space and save paper," said Miller. She added that she is also pursuing an e-filing system for criminal appeals filed in Supreme Court, in order to expedite the appeal process.
"Sometimes, we may take a half a dozen boxes of paper to the Supreme Court ... especially on death penalty cases," said Miller. "We already have to image in everything, so if I can send that down there in a file ... that would be great. The state of Alabama already has [an e-filing system], so I am disappointed that we don't have it yet."
Currently, the county's online real estate records only go back to the year 1992. Miller said she would like to increase this history so that , "more title searchers will be able to do their work at home or at the office without having to come to the court house."
Tony Antoine, who also is running for Superior Court Clerk as a democrat, said Miller's decision to re-enter the race would not deter him.
"It doesn't change anything," said Antoine. "I wasn't running in any way associated to her running. I moved to Clayton County 22 years ago, and I've seen the county's reputation deteriorate for several years ... I wanted to get in there and make a positive change in that area."
Antoine said Miller has done a "good job" as clerk of Superior Court, but added, "15 years doesn't exactly make you more qualified, it only makes you more familiar."
Bob Hartley, who as of Monday, had not settled on a particular party affiliation, believes that he has "the best qualifications," despite Miller's decision to run.
"When we started building up our organization, we were in it to win it from day one," said Hartley. "We have a lot of support throughout the county. We are looking forward ... and we are hoping to win."