by Greg Parks
I’m running for the Democratic nomination to become Alexandria’s next Clerk of Court because I think it is critical for a progressive vision to be brought to every public office in Virginia. I am the sole candidate in this race who has voted in Democratic primaries, been a member of our local Democratic Committee before seeking its nomination (and have been for many years), and who has a consistent record of volunteering for Democratic candidates. I’ve been on the frontlines of the party’s voter-protection efforts and have served as a public servant for nearly a quarter of a century. My passion is, and always will be, making our community a better place.
The Clerk of the Court is a race that often escapes public attention. But while you may not interact with this office every day, when you do, it will be during one of the most critical moments of your life. It is vital that the right person be elected to this important office. None of us will forget the terrible legacy of Kim Davis, the former Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, who used her office to advance a right-wing agenda by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the United States Supreme Court. Even though she was a Democrat in name when first elected, she clearly didn’t bring the values of our party to the office. Davis fortunately would go on to lose reelection after changing her affiliation to the Republican party. You have my commitment that from day one I will fight to ensure that this office works well for every member of the community. As a party, we clearly need to constantly welcome new voters with open arms. It’s how we grow as an organization and win elections. But that is far different than giving the nomination for public office to someone who doesn’t have an established connection or history working with the party and its progressive causes. I do and I will not let you down.
My vision for this office focuses on three things. First, improving access to justice. Our court system exists to serve the entire public. No one should be effectively denied the services the court has to offer because they can’t afford an attorney. I will seek to participate in the Virginia Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Initiative and partner with agencies like the Alexandria Bar Association and Legal Services of Northern Virginia to find ways to help the average citizen accomplish basic legal tasks without incurring thousands of dollars of legal fees.
That leads to my second initiative – outstanding customer and citizen service. The Clerk’s Office is in a position to help citizens navigate the judicial bureaucracy to find answers to their basic legal questions. However, all too often, when citizens go to a clerk’s office they may find themselves asking a question and receiving the exceedingly unhelpful answer of “we don’t offer legal advice.” This is one example of why it is critical that the head of this office be an attorney – so that he or she knows where the line is actually drawn between practicing law and simply offering good customer service. Another example of why this is vital is that the Clerk is responsible for determining whether there is probable cause to issue a seizure warrant in an asset forfeiture case. The issuance of this warrant can result in someone’s bank account being frozen or their car being taken by the government. Having a lawyer make that legal determination is an important safeguard for the public. I am the only attorney running for this position.
Lastly, I want to place an emphasis on the need to modernize the technology in the courthouse and in the Clerk’s office. Alexandria is a leading community in this field, as is evidenced by the decision to locate the new Innovation Campus of Virginia Tech in our city. We deserve a courthouse that lives up to the same standard. Simple, free, and quality remote access to court records, along with online filing helps make litigation cheaper and fairer. Better technology in the courtroom enhances the quality of trials, improving a jury’s ability to arrive at the truth. As a former Chief Counsel of an administrative court, I know first-hand how to accomplish these improvements. I helped implement electronic filing and I know first-hand how it improves the public’s experience with the courts.
I come from a long line of dedicated public servants and have spent my entire life in this field. I was a civilian attorney for the United States Coast Guard for a dozen years, focused on environmental laws before working in a variety of attorney and manager positions in other federal agencies. Public service is a noble calling and I believe Alexandria deserves to have the highest quality candidates. In this election, Alexandria doesn’t have to choose between a committed public servant and a leader with a compelling vision because my candidacy captures both.
My husband David and I are proud to call Alexandria home. This is a community that emphasizes compassion, inclusivity, and exceptional service. To learn more, please visit ParksForClerk.com or Facebook.com/parksforclerk. You can also reach me at email@example.com. I hope to earn your vote on June 11th.