Surry Clerk of Court candidate profile: Thomas L.S. Mayes

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Editor’s note: Thomas L.S. Mayes is one of four candidates running for Surry County Clerk of Circuit Court. The Smithfield Times sent the following questionnaire to each candidate. The others are Shelia Hunt, Earl Newby and Janeen Jackson.

Age: 63

Occupation: Retired, Safety & Environmental Law Clerk (for Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Naval construction projects East Coast)

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1. What inspired you to run for clerk court?

In the beginning of my career, after my graduation from Elon College with a BS in Business Administration and Minor in Real Estate I undertook performing vast title searches for electric power projects in North Carolina. 

My focus in real estate was in law and brokerage operations. Here began my interactions with the workings of both the Circuit Court clerk’s office and Registrar of Deeds offices in the performance of my duties.

As projects brought me back into Virginia my tasks were confined to the Circuit Court clerks offices within the southside. In 2000, I was given the opportunity to become a safety and environmental law clerk for multi-million-dollar construction projects on the East Coast. After 15 years of federal service I recalled the pride and sense of family that I enjoyed working within the clerks offices. This is what inspired my love for Surry’s historic courthouse and her records!

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

One of the several things that has failed to be accomplished in the past is the creation of a “grand index” of our counties’ records beginning in 1652 to present. The depth of this problem cannot be addressed here within such limited wording, but the time is long overdue to compile all indexes into a single database, both online and in print. Also, the storage conditions of our cherished records room is in my opinion seriously inadequate! The layout and shelving is causing damage to the covers of old and newly restored books alike, not to mention records stacked on top of others for lack of proper space! I will immediately begin designing a shelving system that will display these records with the pride and protection they deserve! There is a pressing need to not just update the computer system, but to reengineer it with the latest records retention abilities.

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

I believe “old school does not mean old fashioned” and if the question refers solely to computerization of records, then that is just one side of the equation. I’ve long been quoted as saying, “If it’s not in writing it didn’t happen.” I subscribe to an office that is both online and in printed book form. It’s no big secret that Surry’s Clerk’s office is far behind in computerization of all of our records, both historic and present. Modern day activities have lent themselves to professionals in many disciplines requiring both on-site and remote access to not short of all of the documents recorded within the Circuit Court. Other local surrounding clerk’s offices have made this a reality. I believe that any “heir apparent” to the present retiring clerk is a continuation of the “status quo” and should be taken into consideration when electing a new clerk.