The debate stage was set on a Tuesday night, it came down to three people to handle the criminal records and other data for Shelby County. The Shelby County Republican General Sessions Court Clerk Debate occurred on February 25. This debate focused around who can fix the General Sessions Court Clerk position. Though this debate was for the Republican candidate it helped show regardless of who it was there was a necessity for someone with experience to receive the position. This debate comes down after there have been issues with access to records of criminals. The position is important due to the fact that recently the Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk had to give out thousands of dollars due to their malfeasance. If everyone is to be represented equally should it not be by someone who has experience in this field and for the position?
The debate was supposed to have taken place between four candidates but only three attended. Three of the four candidates; Paul Boyd, Michael Finney, and Lisa Wimberly. Though all of the same Party two had different ideas than the other for how to handle the major inexperience in office. Michael Finney claimed, “People should be trained at the highest level.” He wanted there to be better training for all in the website as well as the devices and other things the records themselves are downloaded and kept on for further use. Paul Boyd though wanted to take things a step further in allowing not just the main Clerks but assistants as well, “Employees are cross trained to help in jobs. Anyone can talk to any employees about any topic.” This idea of allowing for everyone to be able to conduct their job and help others allows for experience to be increased. Wimberly felt that all that was necessary for experience was to put someone in charge. This led to a small but fervent debate between herself and Mr. Finney. He made the claim it took more than just a leader for the position and others involved with the position to change. The previous holder of the position, Ed Stanton Jr., is stepping down after a long tenure in the Justice System. There were several accusations laid against he and his staff and how they were not working towards bettering the position itself. They made claims that the website always malfunctioned, the service was not beneficial to people, as well as the lack of experience. Under Stanton the very website that they attacked was institutionalized under him. The candidates all felt that experience overall could benefit the community.
The interesting thing about this position is regardless of political party both sides are working on how they can better allow everyone access to records, how they can support and assist judges, as well as dealing with cases. This position is voted on by the people and then from there the position choses his own people to staff the county clerk office. The General Sessions County Clerk Office though not a large part of government, it still is important. They help keep up with records and do so much for judges, courts, etc. That is why this position is almost above the Republican versus Democrat debate and it comes down to who can handle the job. This position in itself does not necessarily make a difference whether the person is Democrat or Republican, more so it matters if the person has experience in the field.
Though it seems to be that from the debate attended, that people seem to lean more along the lines of the party they are affiliated with rather than the more experienced candidate. The group polarization theory seemed to come into play for this debate. Sunstein stated, “What he had in mind was a third explanation, involving social comparison. That explanation begins with the claim that people want to be perceived favorably by other group members, and also to perceive themselves favorably.” (Sunstein) Though the debate was about the actual job some could argue it would be who showed the most Republican stand point. Trump’s name was mentioned several times for a debate that was meant to be about how they would handle the job of General Sessions County Clerk. This idea is not uncommon for those to push their own party so those in the party feel they stand out more than their competitors. This idea leads many to not trust local politics and positions.
The debate showed how local officials in Shelby County (even the General Sessions Court Clerk) are seeing how experience is necessary for the job to be done right. I observed that through this debate the candidates though semi-experienced they were more pushing for the job based on their party. This idea that a group influences they way decisions are made and people being elected is a serious issue in local politics that needs to be fixed, especially in today’s partisan based government. The candidates at the debate and others are experienced and are pushing for experience in positions. Experience is what is missing in all local politics and it is something that is beginning to see how important experience really means in positions and to the voter.