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Daily Journal
     October 16, 2020      #53-290 KDJ

Office morale, efficiency come into question

By Jeff Bonty

KANKAKEE — How the office of the Kankakee County Circuit Clerk is run proved to be the issue during Tuesday’s candidate forum hosted by the Kankakee County Branch of the NAACP and its political action committee at the Kankakee Public Library.

Challengers Dondi Maricle (Democrat) and Nicole Scott (Libertarian) took on incumbent Sandra Cianci (Republican) on how they believe they can resolve problems with warrants, run the court filing system more efficiently and deal with what they said is low office morale.

Cianci has been the circuit clerk for 10 years.

In regards to warrants, Scott and Maricle both argued the system causes problems with warrants not being processed in a timely fashion to having warrants that have already been voided.

“One of the biggest issues is public safety,” Maricle said. “When you have warrants that are not properly processed in a timely manner, you have dangerous individuals that are not being arrested because the circuit clerk did not process the warrant, and people who should not have warrants are being arrested for the same reasons.

Scott said there are people being picked up on warrants that were voided because there were not properly put into the system.

“We have new processes that are being taught at the conventions and they are not being shown to the staff. I believe this needs to be changed. We need to have everyone know the procedure from the circuit clerk,” Scott said.

Cianci said when a warrant is issued in court, a clerk brings those back to the office after getting out of court and then puts all information into the system. A supervisor scans in the warrant and it goes through an intranet system to the sheriff’s office.

“Yes there have been a few issues. We are human. People get out of court late. There are 9 million things happening every day but we do the best we can,” Cianci said.

The office is currently using a computer program that is 10 years old. Cianci said some upgrades have been made.

However, when the county was facing a financial crisis, the plan to convert it to a more modern system grinded to a halt.

“Yes there have been some upgrades along the way but not advanced enough to be able to easily integrate with the second software system we are mandated to join,” Cianci said.

Scott said she has researched court filing systems used by other counties.

With her background in working with computer programs used in business, Scott said she could get the system up to speed.

Maricle said in her career she has helped people find solutions.

“I’ll bring positive leadership to the office that needs improvements,” she said. “Together we can work to improve customer services, educate the public and help law enforcement by making sure they have the current information to make the community safer.”

In regards to low morale of employees, Cianci said there have been people leaving because they found better-paying jobs, left the workforce to be a caregiver, or moved out of state.

“There is not one office in the world that is perfectly happy at the same time. I have new employees I have hired and they are happy to be there,” Cianci said. “We’ve had some turnover and I’m sure we’re going to get there. It’s not as bad as has been said. It is not doom and gloom.”

When asked how to improve morale, Maricle said: “I think it needs to be teamwork, positive leadership and it needs solutions from outside of the box.”

Scott said the way she manages is management by objective.

“I believe in empowering the people in the office and I feel we are losing long-term employees because they are not happy. Long-term employees do not leave a position unless they are extremely unhappy. I think we should work with the people and get them to where they are happy and they feel empowered in their position.”

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