St Johns County, FL
Dear Editor and Historic City News readers:
For nearly twenty years, Cheryl Strickland served as our elected Clerk of Court. When she announced she would retire in August 2015, she requested the Governor appoint me to fill the remainder of her term. It was a logical request. I had been training for the position for nearly 19-years as Strickland’s Chief Deputy Clerk. I worked beside her at the Clerk’s office for 32 years. I was involved with every management decision in the office.
Despite plenty of advanced notice, the Governor didn’t make a decision by Clerk Strickland’s retirement date, so a decision was made locally and I was named as the interim Clerk of Court by the Chief Judge. The appointment would last until the Governor made a decision or until the election, whichever came first.
Nearly two months after my appointment, I received a call from the Governor’s office saying that the Governor was appointing someone who had never worked in the office, effective immediately! One week later, I retired and decided to run for Clerk of Court, the office I had been trained to run my entire adult life.
You could understand the decision if Mrs. Strickland or I had run the office poorly, or if there were even one negative article written about the Clerk’s office. But in fact, the opposite is true. We received letters regularly from customers who complimented our staff and the only newspaper articles written about our office were complimentary.
I am honored to be endorsed by retired Clerk, Cheryl Strickland, and I won’t stand by and let back door politics ruin St. Johns County any more than it already has. Let’s tell Tallahassee to respect local decisions instead of caving to political pressure and granting favors to people based upon who they know!
The first thing I did as your interim Clerk was to abolish the Chief Deputy position. I continued the major duties as the interim Clerk and distributed the other duties amongst existing directors. This was my first step, amongst many, to reduce the Clerk’s budget. When I was forced out by the Governor, the newly appointed interim Clerk hired a Chief Deputy who also had no experience in a Clerk’s office, and he’s paying him $117,426.02 in wages and benefits.
When I am elected, I will again eliminate the Chief Deputy position. The Clerk’s office will save nearly $11,000 each year in retirement costs, paid to the State, since I am already retired. These two items alone will save more than $500,000 in just one term of office. If you agree these inside deals and outrageous salaries for inexperienced people are NOT what we need in St Johns County, please vote for George Lareau on August 30th. Bring back common sense and bring back some order to the Clerk’s office.
Political Advertisement paid for and approved by George Lareau, Republican, for St Johns County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.