Candidates running for Lake County clerk of the circuit court have very different opinions on how available funds should be spent to improve a severely outdated computer system.
Democrat Rupam Dave, 50, from Grayslake, said the money should be used to replace the aged computer system with a new, user-friendly version.
However, Republican Keith Brin, 40, of Highland Park, said the entire system doesn't need to be junked, but instead could be improved and updated.
Both Brin and Dave are vying to replace outgoing Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt in the Nov. 6 general election.
Brin, an attorney by trade, is the office's chief deputy clerk. Dave is also an attorney and holds a master's degree in economics from Loyola University.
Both candidates agreed the office's current computer system at the Waukegan courthouse is not customer friendly. They disagree on how much funding is available in addition to how extensive the upgrade should be.
Dave said she would use $1.9 million from a shared court automation fund, and another $3.6 million from the clerk's document storage fund to replace the system.
"The system being used right now is extremely outdated and there are very few people who know how to manage it," she said. "I would use this $5.5 million in a way that would benefit taxpayers and obtain a completely new computer system."
However, Brin said, the $1.9 million in the court automation fund is shared between the courthouse and the clerk's office, and therefore isn't for the clerk's office to spend.
At the same time, he said the current computer system works well for people who know how to use it. He said that a new program could be added to make it more user friendly for attorneys and taxpayers.
"The (computer) system we have in the office works great for the employees of the clerk's office," Brin said. "It was never designed to be used outside the clerk's office, so, in that regard, we can build or buy a program or front-end system and make it more user-friendly."
He added he would prefer to spend money to improve the current system "rather than spend millions and millions tearing down the entire building."
"And, it would be horrible fiscal management to spend that entire pot of money on one thing like a new computer system," he said.
However, Dave said that money is for taxpayers and should be spent on making the computer system -- and the clerk's office -- more user-friendly.
"We shouldn't be building a nest egg with this money," she said.
"We should use that money for the benefit of the attorneys and taxpayers who use the courthouse."