The race for Saginaw County Clerk will pit Democratic incumbent Susan Kaltenbach against challenger Iveory M. Love-Morris in the August primary; with the winner facing off against Republican challenger James Ormsby in November.
Susan Kaltenbach was first elected Saginaw County Clerk back in 2000 and has held the position for the past 12 years. During her tenure she has implemented many procedures in both the vital records & election divisions to streamline the process of filing, retrieving, and maintaining records. She has a BA in Education and MS in Library Science from the University of Michigan. She also served on the Saginaw Township Community School Board for 12 years and was also president of the Saginaw County School Board Association, as well as the School Board. She has also served as a mentor in the HOSTS program at Coulter Elementary School.
Iveory M. Love-Morris is a lifelong resident of Saginaw County and a retiree from the Saginaw County Courthouse, now running for County Clerk. She graduated from Saginaw High School in 1972 and attended Delta College. She also served as President of the Office of Professional Employees International Union and volunteers at the East Side Soup Kitchen.
The Review did not receive responses to this Candidate Forum from Love-Morris in time to meet our deadline.
Review: How has your background prepared and positioned you to effectively handle the duties & responsibilities of Saginaw County Clerk?
Kaltenbach: My skills and knowledge base have prepared me for this job in many ways. My Bachelors degree in Education helps in training employees, understanding people and teaching election workers, while my library science knowledge allows me to exercise my skills in filing, retaining, retrieving and preserving documents and records.
My service on the Saginaw Township School Board gave me an understanding of administering an organizations with budgets, public relations, employment policies and being accountable to the public for the education of our children.
Since becoming Clerk I have been asked to participate in a State House Panel on hearings for election reform: Secretary of State's Help America Vote Act Committee: the Council of Election Officials and many special committees to work with the Secretary of State's Office on election administration.
In 2008 I was president of the Michigan Association of County Clerks. I continue to work with that organization on legislation and many projects to improve procedures in County Clerk Offices. This organization has also given me access to the information and laws, which my Office must follow. My fellow clerks across Michigan have provided a wealth of knowledge for me to give to Saginaw County. This leads to standardization in offices across the State.
Review: What do you feel are the top priorities of the County Clerk's office and why do you think you are prepared to better implement and oversee these responsibilities than your opponents?
Kaltenbach: The County Clerk's Office must be able to serve residents and clients the information, which they need for living in today's society. With the implementation of the Federal Identification Act citizens find the need to have a certified copy of their birth certificate. Some of our elderly residents have never had the official copy, but have gone through years with just a hospital registration, which is no longer acceptable. Birth certificates are highly protected documents only available to people named on the certificate which requires us to identify the requestor.
This requirement sometimes presents problems for my staff, and me but we do everything possible to help these people. Now with new requirements for driver's licenses, passports and registering to vote as recently passed by our State Legislature, this topic is of primary importance. We also work hard to prevent identity theft.
Due to the many changes in election law over the past several years, the Clerk, as chief election officer of the County, must continue to keep abreast of new laws and procedures. As County Clerk, I assist, share and disseminate this information to the 30 local clerks to insure that elections are administered according to the law.
Furthermore, our County Circuit Court depends on my Court Records Staff to take filings and get the information the judges and their staff needs to hear and try cases before them. We need to move to a digital system to get information easily, quickly and efficiently to and from the users of these records. This project will require a budget outlay to begin, but will bring in money from the user system in the long run.
Having served as your County Clerk for the past 12 years, the experience in the Office allows me to address these priorities with greater understanding than any of my opponents
Review: How do you view the County Clerk's office evolving and changing over the next four years?
Kaltenbach: Budgets for all of the County divisions will continue to be a challenge in the future. We must continue to use the technology available to maintain records and disseminate the public information via the website. The technology allows citizens and clients to get the information they need without actually visiting the courthouse facility which saves them travel time, parking space and money. However, we are aware that not everyone can use the technology. Storage of all the paper documents of the County is creating budgetary problems for all departments.
We also must consider staffing. Some job duties may be changing due to the technology. But, we still need staff to input data, organize it for use, and disseminate it. In the Clerk's Office we will always need enough staff to personally serve the public, which uses our services daily.
Review: What are your top goals for improving the office of County Clerk and what are the biggest challenges the position faces over the next four years?
Kaltenbach: First, we will continue to utilize software systems to receive, index, and file records for births, deaths, marriages, notary bonds, jury questionnaires, concealed weapons permits, assumed names, DD214's, bonds and court fines and any other records to be kept by the County Clerk.
Since assuming this job in 2001, progress has been made in all areas of Vital Records. We have scanned all births from 1935 to present on our Onbase System. We have marriages and deaths from 2002 forward scanned. We use a State Electronic death filing system which helps doctors and funeral directors file death certificates. We developed a jury questionnaire, which streamlined the process and decreased the cost of the Jury Board. We purchased a software system to help with the Concealed Weapon Permits, which improves our ability to offer a better license with less staff time involved. We utilize a vendor system to accept orders for vital records online using a credit card. By using software programs we can access and retrieve our records easily, quickly and cost effectively. Our interactive website is also a way to let customers know what records we have and how to order them. We had to eliminate one position in the 2011 budget cuts, but by using computer systems the remaining staff can maintain the level of service that Saginaw County has come to expect from this office without extra burden. We always have a busy counter and ringing phones which the staff services with care.
Secondly, I will continue to improve the election division of the Clerk's Office to give Saginaw County citizens and others information about election dates, candidates, proposals and results.
Elections were forced to change with the events in Florida in 2000. In 2006 the Secretary of State and its Bureau of Elections gave every jurisdiction in the State new tabulating equipment and handicap accessible ballot marking machines and software to program elections. We opted to do our own programming to produce ballots to send to a printer at a great savings to the county that also allows us to receive revenue from the local jurisdictions for this work. This step gives us greater control over the timing and printing of our ballots. We now have election results available on our website as they arrive on election night. We also have results for all elections starting in 1996.
We post on our website the names and addresses of all candidates and proposals before an election as well as we post the actual ballot proofs for each precinct on the County opening page: saginawcounty.com
We have campaign finance reports available for local candidates and their committee organizations on the website. We would like to find a new system to administer all of this information.
My office follows legislation and changes to help local clerks in administering elections and with any problems they encounter. They are very grateful for this, as new laws over the last several years have made their responsibilities and those of the election workers much greater.
My third goal is to change the way we accept, file and maintain Circuit Court Records. The present system is all paper and requires lots of storage space and manpower to move from court to court and other offices.
I will continue to be available to help citizens with special emergency problems on weekends which we have done during my years as Saginaw County Clerk.
Review: Feel free to add any additional comments on any topic that I may not have touched upon.
Kaltenbach: I am married to attorney, Pat Kaltenbach and the mother of 3 grown children. I am a promoter of the Great Lakes Bay Region as my choice to live, work and play. I encourage others to do the same.