Candidates say they bring honesty to office

Published 11:56 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NATCHEZ — Honesty. Integrity. Trustworthiness.

Those are the qualities the majority of circuit clerk candidates say they can bring to the office.

The circuit clerk is in charge of keeping cases for two circuit court judges, voter registration, marriage licenses, passports, collecting court fines and working with the election commission to conduct elections, among other things.

Email newsletter signup

Donnie Holloway (D) said his three years as city clerk have prepared him for the job.

“On a daily basis, I oversee the management of five employees and make sure everything is running smoothly,” Holloway said. “All the city monies come through my office.

“We deal with data processing and making sure all the (city) moneys are deposited. We make sure accounts receivables and payables are in order.”

Current Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines was indicted on 13 counts of embezzlement last year and pleaded guilty to three counts in May. The judge withheld accepting his plea, allowing him to remain in office and run for re-election.

Holloway said he would take steps to make sure what Vines said were bookkeeping mistakes would not happen on his watch.

If elected circuit clerk, he would check the books and records on a daily basis to make sure everything was in order.

Candidate Wilbur O. Johnson (D) said he was the best candidate because he actually worked for eight years in the office as chief deputy circuit clerk under a previous clerk.

With a master’s degree in mathematics, bookkeeping would be no problem, he said. He even has his own accounting system he could immediately put into action.

“I have the ability to do financial work in the office,” Johnson said. “I have communication skills and I understand the computer technology system.”

Johnson said he felt he could make changes to bring the office the dignity it had in past years.

“I want to bring integrity back to the circuit clerk’s office,” he said. “I want people to feel perfectly safe that their records and finances will be handed correctly.”

After repeated requests for information, Vines (D), who is running for reelection, said that because of the volume of work in his office, he would not have time to speak until after the Aug. 7 primaries.

Eddie Walker (D) said his experience in multiple courts as the district attorney’s office criminal investigator gave him perspective.

“I work in circuit clerk offices in the course of doing my job at least weakly and sometimes every day,” Walker said.

After 27 years in the District Attorney’s office, he has become familiar with the court system, he said.

“I have spent countless time in the circuit courtroom itself in the course of court proceedings,” Walker said.

As for Vines’ charges, Walker said he thought voters would consider them on Election Day.

“Those are serious charges to be levied against anybody, especially a public official,” he said.