Two competitors in a hotly contested race for Lake County circuit court clerk clashed in a candidate forum Thursday night in Lake Bluff.
Republican court Clerk Keith Brin and Democratic challenger Erin Cartwright Weinstein addressed technology and lawsuits filed against the office in their portion of the forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters' Lake Forest and Lake Bluff branch.
Brin and Weinstein are seeking a 4-year term in the Nov. 8 election. The court clerk's office handles criminal and civil court filings, traffic ticket payments, passport issuance and other tasks.
Moderator Valerie Krejcie from the Evanston League of Women Voters posed written questions from the crowd to the candidates and allowed them to make opening and closing statements. Spectators at the Lake Bluff Recreation Center also got to see other candidates including those for Lake County state's attorney and coroner.
On the issue of technology, Brin said the office has come a long way since he won office in 2012. He said he even was selected to provide input to the Illinois Supreme Court.
"We're going to work to improve technology," Brin said.
However, Weinstein contended the office has overspent on a technology consultant who hasn't delivered, She said Brin has not keep his promise to improve technology available to those who use the circuit court clerk's office.
"When I started this campaign it became clear to me it wasn't just a campaign, it was becoming a cause," Weinstein said.
Weinstein questioned costs in worker lawsuits and an employee unionization effort. The Illinois appellate court has confirmed that Lake County circuit clerk's office employees are entitled to join a union if they so choose, but the issue remains unsettled.
Brin said taxpayers may not benefit from his employees unionizing.
"Frankly, they're (the union) going to bankrupt the office and it's your money," Brin told the crowd.
Weinstein criticized Brin for spending $32,000 on food and travel in the roughly four years he's been in office. Brin countered that the expenses were justified and sometimes occurred when attorneys were at his office for meetings.