Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TOP STORY >> Clerk challenger an ex-incumbent

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County Circuit Clerk Denise Brown is running for a second term. She is being challenged by former County Clerk Deborah Oglesby, who was defeated by Brown in 2008. Both candidates are Republicans. Oglesby, who ran as a Democrat in the past, recently changed parties. The primary is Tuesday.

The Leader asked the candidates to answer questions in their own words to give voters a better understanding of their qualifications.

Brown, 49, is married to Ralph N. Brown, who has been the Lonoke County Jail chaplain for the last five years. The couple will celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary next week.

They have four sons, Jacob, Daniel, Nathan and Matthew.

Jacob just finished his freshman year at UALR; Daniel will be a junior at Lonoke High School; Nathan is at Lonoke Middle School, and he is going into 8th-grade, and Matthew will begin kindergarten at Lonoke Primary School.

Oglesby, 36, is the proud mother of one son, Trevor, who is 17. She is the daughter of Donald Oglesby and Linda Finch of Cabot

How long in the area?

Brown: I have lived in Arkansas since 1984 (28 years), I have lived in Lonoke County for over 13 years. I have heard other candidates say how they have lived their entire lives in Lonoke, Cabot, Lonoke County etc., and I hope my children will one day be able to say that. That said, I choose to live here and in making this choice, I choose to do what I can to enrich our community.

Oglesby: I was born and raised in the Cabot area and have been a Lonoke County resident my entire life. I am a graduate of Cabot High School.

What in your work history qualifies you for the position?

Brown: I am currently the Circuit Clerk. Prior to that I was the office manager at the Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for over 10 years. I had several goals in mind when I ran in 2010 and when I took office on Jan. 1, 2011. I have been able to achieve all of my goals. I was able to restructure the office so that it is much more accessible to the public. I installed Microsoft Office on all computer stations so that the office has e-mail capability. I developed a website,, so jurors are able to access and check their next report date. Also it is now utilized to post the judicial foreclosure sales. I streamlined jury orientation, selection and the payment process. I make sure that all child-support payments are mailed out the same day they are received. Single parents depend on that money to support their families.

Oglesby: I have worked in Lonoke County government for 17 years and have held the positions of deputy county/probate clerk for one year, deputy circuit clerk for 10 years and I served as your Lonoke County Circuit Clerk for six years.

I have completed 114 hours in Arkansas Circuit Clerk’s continuing education classes through the Arkansas Public Administrative Consortium at the University of Arkansas. I have experience in every aspect of the Lonoke County Circuit Clerk’s office.

Why do you want the position?

I want to continue to update the technology of the office, in addition to all the improvements I have made. In June, I will be meeting with a representative from the Administrative Office of the Courts. This meeting is in regards to making our court documents available to the public beginning early to mid 2013. My goal is to make this office as accessible as possible.

Oglesby: I want to be your Lonoke County Circuit Clerk again because I truly loved serving the great citizens of Lonoke County and look forward to serving them once again. I care about the people of Lonoke County and insist that the citizens deserve to be treated with respect at all times, regardless of the situation. I hope the citizens of Lonoke County will consider my 16 years proven experience and knowledge as former circuit clerk of Lonoke County at the polls on Tuesday.

What do you see as the biggest challenge of the position?

Brown: I am not sure if this would be considered a challenge, but the job of the circuit clerk is to make sure that all documents are recorded and filed within 24 hours. We are striving each day to maintain that standard.

I have the best staff and they all work 100 percent. Even though this is not a “glamorous” position, to me this office is the backbone of our court system. So in essence the challenge is to make sure we are accurate, courteous and conscientious. Serving the public is our main priority.

Oglesby: One of the biggest challenges is the pressing need for storage space for court records in the Circuit Clerk’s Office. These records consist of domestic relations, juvenile, criminal and civil court filings that are original pleadings that must be kept permanently. Storage for these records is currently inadequate in that old records are stored in various locations within the courthouse. There records are stored from the basement to the old jail located at the top of the courthouse, which makes access difficult and time consuming. The county’s population will continue to grow and the need for storage will be more necessary. A long-term solution and goal would be to find an appropriate off-site storage facility that will allow for growth. The storage of these records is not only important for the circuit clerk’s office, but to better serve the public as well.

What sets you apart from the other candidates in the race?

Brown: The other candidate in this race happens to be the previous circuit clerk. If you look at all my accomplishments in the first year I was in office, I feel that our differences are very apparent.

I have only listed a few of the things I have done since being sworn into office. You can go to my personal website,, to view my complete list.

I am a member of the Arkansas County Circuit Clerks Association 2011/2012; committee member of the Lonoke County Republican Party since 2007; member of the Lonoke Apostolic Church since 1998; instructor for Alcohol Chemical Treatment Series and parenting classes since 2007. I was voted the 2011 Republican Woman of the Year, and I was the chairperson of the Lonoke Single Parent Scholarship Fund in 2010.

I feel that any elected position is a position of service to our citizens, not just a job. I am first and foremost a public servant.

Oglesby: My experience sets me apart from my opponent. I have 16 years proven experience in the Lonoke County Circuit Clerk’s Office and already know the duties and responsibilities of the office. I am dedicated to serve all of Lonoke County with respect and dignity.