CRESTVIEW — With Okaloosa Clerk of Court Don Howard's retirement, three candidates are vying for the position.
They shared their backgrounds and platforms with the News Bulletin.
CHARLES BAUGH JR.
Personal:spouse, Roslyn; and children, Charles III, Nicholas and Candice. Member: Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church of Crestview, Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee, Okaloosa County Republican Club, North Okaloosa Republican Club, African American Community Leaders Alliance of Okaloosa County, Okaloosa Citizens Alliance and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Received the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce's 2010 Dr. W.J. "Doc" Burrows Citizen of the Year Award.
Relevant experience:"Possessing federal (military), municipal and private-sector management experiences makes me uniquely different from my opponents. My diversified work experience has exposed me to wide-ranging challenges in managing, leading and solving complex issues for over 33 years. I bring the best practices in managing and supervising personnel while simultaneously motivating individuals to provide exceptional job performance. Unlike my opponents, I have the benefit of working with multi-governmental and private sector records and financial management systems."
Other education/experience:Former Crestview councilman; director, Florida League of Cities; president, Northwest Florida and Okaloosa County League of Cities; and member, Okaloosa-Walton and Northwest Florida Regional Transportation Planning Organization. Associates degrees: Community College of the Air Force; Information Systems Technology and Aircraft Avionics Systems, and attended the University of Florida with 96 semester hours in Nuclear Engineering Sciences. Completed numerous military leadership and private-sector management courses. Attended FSU's Florida Institute of Government's Elected Municipal Officials Course.
Reason you seek this position:Motivated to run for office to fully restore the public trust and confidence in the position by ensuring the county’s public records are fully transparent, properly safeguarded and maintained.
Secondly, to ensure the county’s financial records possess the necessary oversight to meet accepted accounting principles and to resolve the state auditor general findings concerning the Okaloosa County TDC.
"I have the right mix of leadership and management styles to oversee crucial judicial electronic filings, records keeping functions and serve as the comptroller and auditor for the Board of County Commissioners with a fiscal management responsibility that’s accountable to the people."
Biggest issues:"1. Resolving the state auditor general's Report No. 2013-085 findings following the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council scandal involving the use of tourist development taxes and funds received from British Petroleum.
"2. Correct state auditor general’s Report No. 2014-068 findings.
"3. Bringing the electronic filing capabilities of the clerk of the circuit court to efficient and effective levels.
"4. Providing consistently exemplary customer service across all areas of responsibility.
"I'll address these issues by obtaining an accurate assessment of the clerk's area of responsibility to achieve the service levels the citizens of Okaloosa County deserve."
Personal: wife, Laura Helton Peacock; two grown children and three granddaughters.
Active Shalimar United Methodist Church member, board member of the Okaloosa/Walton Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Okaloosa Big Brothers Big Sisters, treasurer of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office’s Star Charities and an active member of All Sports Association.
Relevant experience: "I currently serve as the chief administrator of the Sheriff’s Office. In that capacity I oversee Professional Standards, Procedures and Professional Development. I am the budget director and I work daily with our finance department on agency expenditures ensuring that our financial resources are used the most efficiently and effectively for public safety in Okaloosa County. I also manage IT and Innovation as well as all court related operations of the sheriff’s office."
Other education/experience: "I am a U.S. Army veteran. I have a bachelor’s degree in Management from Northwest Florida State College and a Public Management Certification from Florida State University. I have also completed many leadership courses during my career. I have served Okaloosa County for almost 25 years as a certified law enforcement officer working my way up from patrol deputy to major and chief administrator. I have served in every rank from line supervision to executive management."
Reason you seek this position: "I am running because there is a great opportunity to bring new leadership, fresh administrative ideas, and increased transparency that is based on real-world experience to the clerk's office.
"My proven background and years of Okaloosa County government experience are an excellent fit for this challenging and complex position. I have firsthand knowledge about the many responsibilities of the clerk’s office, and I have working relationships with many of the good directors, supervisors and employees of the clerk’s office.
"I am prepared for this challenging assignment and I am the most qualified candidate to lead this agency into the future."
Biggest issues: "I will continue to carry out the recommendations of the state Auditor General as outlined in their operational audit.
"While many of the recommendations have been instituted, the county audit plan still needs work. I have a plan to further strengthen the internal audit and oversight functions.
"Under my administration we will continue with the implementation of innovative records management programs in the court-related operations.
"My experience with the judicial staff and court operations will allow me and the great employees of the clerk’s office to bring innovative thinking and be a leader in process improvements and customer service."
Personal:wife, Tiffany; four children, Daniel (13), Daylin (12), David (9) and Dillon (4). Also placed with a child in July for adoption through the State of Florida Department of Children and Families. Member of Lifepoint Church in Crestview and part of the adult leadership team in the Youth Group. Has coached youth sports (soccer and baseball) through the City of Crestview Recreation Department for 10 years.
Relevant experience:"I have over 13 years' experience working for two Fortune 500 companies (Georgia-Pacific, Tom Thumb – Kroger). I have worked for Tom Thumb for the past 10 years, and have served as the director of finance and controller for the past eight years.
"In addition, I have simultaneously managed the Risk Management, Information Technology, and Finance Departments for the past six years.
"I will bring private-sector experience and customer service focus to the clerk’s office.
Other education/experience:bachelor's degree in Accounting from Auburn University; attended numerous executive seminars/training sessions including the Financial Leadership Program at the Wharton College of Business (University of Pennsylvania), the Leadership Development Program at Eckerd College and Key Executive Coaching through KL Martzall.
Reason you seek this position: "With our current clerk's retirement, our county has a need that must be met by the right person. I entered this race because I am the right person.
"It’s imperative that our next clerk have the financial expertise, combined with dynamic management experience, to safeguard the financial well-being of Okaloosa County.
"My combination of education, experience and leadership make me uniquely qualified to be the next clerk of the Circuit Court and comptroller. I will bring my experience from the private sector and apply proven practices to our county government."
Biggest issues:"The biggest issue facing the clerk is continuing to address the two state Auditor General’s reports resulting from the TDC fraud. There are a number of open items remaining from the audits, including continued revision of the audit work plans.
"In addition, accounting processes need ongoing review to ensure proper separation of duties and adequate checks and balances. This must continue to be a focus in the future to ensure loopholes are closed safeguarding against fraudulent activity.
"As the only candidate with an accounting degree and direct financial management experience, I am uniquely qualified to meet these challenges.