Reinventing a public office takes vision, dedication, and perseverance. It takes a team of 30-plus talented individuals. It takes a gracious, trusting constituency to allow it to succeed. I’m running for my third term and hope to continue exceeding the expectations of the Anne Arundel County citizens.
In my previous “Where I Stand,” I explained the function of the Office of the Register of Wills and my continuing imprint on the office. This time, I would like to highlight where we started and where we are now.
When I took office in 2006, there was little reliance on technology; instead, the motto was “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” My personal belief is that there’s a better way to do the same job in less time with more efficient use of resources. Over the last eight years, I have increased the employee use of technology by way of voicemail, email, and web technology to do the same job better and faster leaving more time and resources available for what really matters: exceptional customer service.
Our surveys indicate an overall 99.34 percent public satisfaction rate. It’s very important to me to strike the appropriate balance between automation and personal service. As such, a helpful live person will always answer the phone during business hours.
One of my biggest passions has been the modernizing of our system. In 2006, we had virtually no initiatives in place to update our court system. I fought for permission for a paperless office, credit cards, e- filing, and more.
I’ve won some battles and will continue to press for more improvements. Currently, we scan every document within minutes of receiving it making them available on our kiosks immediately. Our dockets are available online within 24 hours of posting in our case management software. All of our office records back to 1875 are now available electronically.
With the passage of recent laws, we’ll be approaching entirely paperless by returning the original documents to the estate administrators. On Oct. 1, my office will start accepting credit cards as a form of payment. Eventually, constituents will be able to order copies of documents online.
Fiscal responsibility is another cornerstone of my philosophy. In 2006, the office had relationships with outside vendors for supplies and services. I cut spending, renegotiated contracts, and implemented more cost-efficient services.
These cuts netted $20,000 per year less in spending by 2009. This conservative approach to contracts continues to this day. Furthermore, the office payroll structure is now less top-heavy, with greater compensation going to general staff, and overall costs lowered, while still maintaining an excellent level of public service. It’s my firm belief that a happy staff reflects their positivity onto people that they serve: namely, the citizens that use this office.
Unless they have used this office before, most of the public doesn’t understand the function of this agency. Therefore, since taking office, it has been my passion to reach out and inform the public. Every year we have a booth at the county fair to distribute information about our office functions. I regularly speak at civic organizations, senior centers, seminars, and other public speaking engagements.
I lectured at Anne Arundel Community College Law School for the Public as well as at this year’s State Bar Convention. In the office and on our website, we have an extraordinary amount of free information available to everyone. My experience reaching out to the citizens of Anne Arundel County has been one of the most rewarding parts of this job.
I do this job because helping families through the most difficult of times is not only a necessary service but also a labor of love. It is never an easy job. I work more than 40 hours every week to ensure that no one is ever unsatisfied; whether employee, attorney, or member of the public.
I humbly ask that you continue your support for me in the general election in November.
Image By Matthew Cole, Capital-Gazette Communications / February 27, 2014