White County Deputy Clerk Karen Gossett believes there is a big experience difference between her and her opponent for White County circuit clerk, Deputy Circuit Clerk Sara Brown.
“It’s like anything you’re doing in life, you’re better today than you were three years ago,” Gossett said. “Twenty-three-plus years versus four years. You know, the more experience you have in anything, the better you are. The longer you are in something, the more mature you are, the more dedicated you are. You’re rooted. You’re grounded.
“I’ve had several people say, ‘You’re seasoned, you’ve been around a long time.’ Well, yes I have, and experience you know I have said it many times, you can’t buy experience, it is something you learn over the years of doing things.”
She said that knowing how both the circuit clerk’s office and clerk’s office “work together, that only adds to my experience.” Gossett said she has worked with many of the employees in the circuit clerk’s office and “I work well with all clerk personnel.”
“We deal with court personnel on a daily basis,” she said. “I have conversations with the judge’s assistant; we work well with them and with the prosecutor’s office. You are constantly dealing with all court personnel.”
Gossett has been working in the county clerk’s office almost eight years and worked for 16 years in the circuit clerk’s office as a deputy.
Gossett said while she began working for the county in the circuit clerk’s office “before that, I had worked for a title company, Citizen’s Title Co., so I was very familiar and taught by Sonny Ekdahl that you never assume anything. Every record leads to another record, and so that was always very important. You always had to have the facts, you had to do your research and dig it all the way to the back.
“I was doing title research in the courthouse so I got familiar with all of the titles. You know when somebody is buying or selling, you have got to run the title on the property, including liens and civil court cases. I got very familiar with all of that from working at the title company.”
Gossett said one of the things she has learned while campaigning in communities is that some people don’t know what the circuit clerk’s office does.
There is a “land side” and a “court side,” Gossett said. “On your land side, you handle anything pertaining to land, the mortgages, foreclosures, tax liens, notary bonds, judgments. And then you also have the court side. You have your domestic court. which covers your divorces, child custody. Your civil court is your lawsuits, your civil claims. You have the criminal records that are felony. You have your juvenile records, criminal sentencing records. You do appeals. You keep the military records [DD214].”
Gossett said the circuit clerk office maintains the records on the court side that the circuit judges use, “so everything that goes through their cases that they hear are filed in the circuit clerk’s office.”
She also said White County Quorum Court members want to see the elected officials in person and being available. “I would be active in that [attending Quorum Court meetings]. I would be active in the circuit clerks meetings. That is where you learn and see all of the new things coming up, you meet with all of the vendors. They have a meeting every year.”
As far as staffing the circuit clerk’s office, Gossett said if elected she would just have to assess the needs of the office. She talked about “leading the office” by providing customer service. “We are public servants when we work with the community and customer service is very important to me.”
Gossett also said she worked with White County Deputy Tax Collector Kathy Baker for many years in the circuit clerk’s office. Baker was the third candidate running for circuit clerk in the May 24 primary, for which Gossett said she “assumed there would be a runoff ... but nobody can ever be for sure on that.” Baker, who was eliminated in the primary, has endorsed Gossett in Tuesday’s runoff, as has White County Judge Michael Lincoln and Assessor Gail Snyder.
As far as how long she has been out on the campaign trail, Gossett said she started at the time of the White County Fair last fall. All three of the candidates at the time participated in the fair parade.
“I have met a lot of interesting people and have met a lot of new friends,” she said. “I did a lot of fish fries, barbecues, cake auctions, just had a great time with all of that from the beginning. I think the fair must have been my first event.
“From beginning then, we have not let up. We pretty much campaign every day except Sunday. I do not campaign on Sundays. We have done a lot of neighborhoods, walked a lot of streets, knocked on a lot of doors, have done a lot of phone messages, a lot of phone calls, a lot of text messages, a lot of messengers, messages, a lot of Facebook ads. I also sent out a mail-out, did several different subdivisions.”
Gossett, who is a member of Valley Baptist Church, said that being circuit clerk “has always been a dream of mine.”
“I value my time with the county everyday and every night I pray about it and say if it’s God’s will then it will be,” she said. “I love the citizens of White County. I have always lived here and been involved in our community and it would be a dream come true and mostly a great honor and privilege to serve the citizens of White County.”