Candice Adams: Candidate profile
Democrat Candice Adams and Republican Chris Kachiroubas are vying for DuPage County circuit court clerk in the Nov. 3 general election.
Adams, an attorney from Lisle seeking her first elected post, is facing incumbent Kachiroubas of Elmhurst, who has served as clerk since 2004.
The circuit court clerk's primary function is to establish, maintain and keep all records of the court.
The Daily Herald recently asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are the replies from Adams.
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A: I am running for this office because, now more than ever, DuPage County needs a clerk's office that is ready to meet future challenges, whatever they may be, and I believe I am the best candidate to ensure we are prepared. I have three main goals that I will focus on once elected.
First, I will improve the technology used in our courtrooms. Only a few of our courtrooms have transitioned from paper to paperless and, when elected, I plan on speeding up the conversion in all courtrooms.
Second, I plan on improving accessibility to the most requested information on our website. While aesthetically pleasing, our website is often difficult to navigate and can be discouraging while attempting to search for crucial information. I plan on remodeling the website to make it more user friendly.
Finally, I will work diligently to show members of DuPage what resources the clerk's office holds, and how to access them.
I plan on providing community outreach through workshops on how to expunge a record, disseminating information about the procedure to secure an order of protection, and the steps to take to pay for/contest certain tickets, just to name a few.
Q. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the position and what would your priority be?
A: If elected, I will bring extensive legal and management experience. I am a practicing attorney and department head for a Chicago law firm. Throughout my career, I have managed teams of over 100 people and departments that generate revenue into the millions.
I have firsthand experience standing before a judge as an attorney and relying on the clerks to assist with the new technology some of our courtrooms have.
I have accessed clerk's offices nationwide to get information on cases. As a manager, I have been responsible for human resource duties which include everything from employee hiring, promotions, evaluations, and when necessary, terminations. I have also spent many years as a rape crisis advocate.
I have counseled victims of sexual assault on court processes that she/he may encounter after leaving the emergency room. I often provided information to survivors on where to look for resources for things like orders of protection, monetary assistance, etc. Because of these experiences, making the information and resources contained within the clerk's office easily accessible to attorneys, members of the legal community and members of the public is my top priority.
Q. Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the clerk of the circuit court's office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A: If elected to this position, I will look to add additional staff in the courtrooms that are transitioning from paper to paperless. We currently rely on the courtroom clerks for execution of multiple responsibilities including assisting judges with court calls and training attorneys on how to use the new technology.
Leaning on them for both functions simultaneously often creates backlogs and delays. By adding more personnel to the courtrooms that are being modernized, with their primary focus on training, it will alleviate the unnecessary wait times currently being experienced by those using the courtroom equipment.
One of the main budgetary items I will address is the need for courthouses outside of the main location in Wheaton. We need to identify potential other solutions to better serve the geography of DuPage County. It is imperative we put a plan in place that is responsive to taxpayers' needs and that we do so by reviewing current budget allocations and ensuring they are optimized. This would include staffing levels in our satellite locations.
Q. Name one concrete program you'll create or personnel move you'll make to improve efficiency in the office or make it more successful. Explain how it will be funded and how you will overcome any obstacles to initiating it.
A: The one concrete program that I will develop once elected is bringing an expungement program that will be organized and sponsored by the clerk's office.
Expungement programs, which aid many individuals, are currently being led by other clerk's offices in communities around us. Expungements help members of our community clear pathways to jobs, housing, military entrance and military rank. It also provides other opportunities that allow individuals to become greater contributors in our community. It starts to level the playing field in a system that does not always apply the laws, and the consequences related to breaking them, evenly.
I will rely primarily on members of the legal community in and surrounding DuPage County to volunteer and staff the majority of the program, requiring little, if any, additional payroll expenses for the office.
If necessary and feasible, I plan to allocate some of the office's budget to assist with the equipment and filing fees necessary to properly file the required court documents.
Q. Describe your position on transparency in the office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
A: I believe that government functions best when the decisions of our leaders are transparent and viewable to the public.
Once elected clerk, I plan to continuously provide updates on the work being done. These updates will be communicated through mediums like the clerk's website, emails sent via the county, and press releases.
We can only have good governance when there is faith in the system and insisting that the clerk's office is transparent and accountable to the public is paramount. One step to achieve this is by making court documents more available to members of the legal community and the general public.
People that come to the clerk's website to find the latest court orders on a case or next court date should be able to with ease. Currently, law firms and attorneys can view court documents quicker and easier than members of our community. I plan on changing this.
In addition, part of my plan is to evaluate the current staffing model. I plan to redirect some personnel to help not only with the rollout of the new technology in courtrooms, but also to assist with scanning and storing court documents electronically, ultimately making most available online.