Renee Overlee: Candidate profile, McHenry County Circuit Court Clerk
Democrat Renee Overlee of Harvard is challenging Republican incumbent Katherine M. Keefe of Woodstock in the race for McHenry County Circuit Court Clerk in the Nov. 3 general election.
Overlee is lead court specialist in the circuit court clerk's office.
To explore her campaign website, visit www.electoverlee.com.
The candidates were asked to respond to a series of questions. For complete election coverage, visit www.dailyherald.com and click on "Election Central."
Here are Overlee's responses.
Q. What is the next challenge facing the McHenry County Circuit Court Clerk's Office and how do you plan on addressing it?
A. I believe that reducing the budget is the next challenge that is facing McHenry County as a whole. When elected, I will be voting YES to reduce the salary of the elected officials by 10 percent. Employees are the greatest and most important asset to the Circuit Clerk's office.
Our turnover rate is at an all-time high as employees leave for better opportunities due to low pay and poor treatment. Employees need to be shown more respect and appreciation by management. I will work to bridge the gap between management and employees.
I also believe we need to review the contract currently in place with Integrated Security Specialists, the firm hired to do all software programming, maintenance and upgrades to our current system. We need to ensure that time, resources and taxpayer money are not being wasted due to poor decisions.
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. Transparency is extremely important when running any government office. I believe that the records of the Circuit Clerk's Office are available to the public in a prompt and efficient manner. There are many reasons why records are not made available to the public, i.e. to protect a person's identity, the need for further investigation, an order of the court. I believe that guidelines are in place for legal reason and the policy should not be changed.
Q. What do you bring to the table that your opponent does not?
A. I will bring 26 years of hands-on experience to the management side of the decision making process. I believe management should have full working knowledge in all areas they are overseeing. Without this knowledge, how can they effectively make the right decisions for an organization? It is important to save the taxpayers money while improving the processes to comply with the laws and ensure better service.
Q. What issue is important to you? How would you approach it?
A. An issue that is extremely important to me is for the Circuit Clerk's office to better serve the public and attorneys by providing more ADA compliant workstations in our offices. Currently, there is only one accessible workstation on the first floor. There are no signs that designate it for the physically disabled. There are ways to make the necessary changes to come into compliance quickly and better serve the public.
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. Access to Justice For All. It is my belief that there are holes in the Access to Justice For All system and I believe that the middle class are being forgotten in their right to legal assistance. For the low-income citizens, there are programs that will ensure they have access to needed forms, representation and other types of legal assistance programs.
Unfortunately, many middle class citizens are living paycheck to paycheck; making just enough money so they do not qualify for representation and legal services in court. Court filing fees are so expensive that they do not receive their day in court because they cannot afford it.
It is my intention to create a self-help center that will have attorney volunteers, specially trained staff with the knowledge and skills to assist people who are in this category. My staff and I will work with the Circuit Judges, the Court Trial Administrator and other court related offices to ensure that everyone is receiving the services that they are seeking. There is currently funding in place for this already, we just need to work together as a team to improve the process and assure the middle class are better served.