Isle of Wight Clerk of Court candidate profile: Elisabeth Culpepper

Published 9:01 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Editor’s note: Elisabeth Culpepper is running for Isle of Wight County Clerk of Circuit Court against Laura Smith. The Smithfield Times sent the following questionnaire to both candidates.

Age: 36

Occupation: Public Defender

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

1. What inspired you to run for clerk of court?

Being passionate about public service, coupled with my extensive legal background, led me to run for Clerk here in Isle of Wight. I understand the challenges facing the Clerk’s Office over the next 8 years and beyond, but I also see the opportunities for the citizens of Isle of Wight. Isle of Wight deserves top-level services that are readily available and easy to access. I have experience writing grants and budgeting as well as working with various community stakeholders and government agencies- all of which are vital skills for your next Clerk. The current Clerk’s Office could be doing so much more without increasing the cost to taxpayers. Increasing efficiency, expanding online services, and applying for grants to ease the financial burden on taxpayers should be the minimum of what your Clerk provides.

2. What if any changes would you make if elected?

Improve the office by ensuring every clerk in that office is certified. There are no Master or Certified Clerks in Isle of Wight, and that includes my opponent. The citizens of Isle of Wight deserve the best services and those come from ensuring the office has the best trained people. This eliminates mistakes, increases efficiency, and saves money in the long run. There are no attorneys in that office either; I am the only attorney running for Clerk. Clerks in Southampton County and the City of Suffolk, the Hon. Richard L. Francis and the Hon. W. Randolph Carter, both licensed attorneys, have told me of the countless legal issues they have faced during their terms that required legal expertise to navigate. So my legal expertise would bring a safety net to the office. I would also increase online functionality and access.

3. How can technology be used to make the office more efficient and accessible to citizens?

Technology boosts efficiency by reducing the amount of clerical hours needed for tasks. When citizens can access information and online services directly, clerks are able to devote their time to other duties and citizens save time and expense. Accessibility is a big issue in Isle of Wight, both in distance to the courthouse and cell/internet service. I will work with community partners

like the Blackwater Regional Library, which provides internet access on-site, to help in citizen access. Your local library branch is probably closer than the Courthouse, and many are open

Saturdays and evenings. We need to expand services and let citizens know those services are available. That means vastly improving the current Circuit Court page on the county website.

No matter why someone has difficulty getting to the Courthouse during business hours: distance, work obligations, family care, mobility or transportation issues, residents deserve to access these services.