Candidates disagree on how well Kane court clerk's office does its work

  • Democrat Theresa Barreiro, left, is challenging incumbent Republican Thomas Hartwell for Kane County circuit clerk.

    Democrat Theresa Barreiro, left, is challenging incumbent Republican Thomas Hartwell for Kane County circuit clerk.

 
 
Posted10/30/2020 5:10 AM

The two candidates for Kane County circuit court clerk disagree on how well the office has done its jobs of managing court records and facilitating payments of fees and fines.

Democrat Theresa Barreiro of Aurora, currently a member of the county board, is trying to unseat Republican Thomas Hartwell, who is seeking a third term.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Barreiro said she was shocked to hear Hartwell say in January 2019 that Kane County was owed nearly $66 million in fines and fees that he called "old debt." At the time, Hartwell told county board members he believed much of it would never be received.

Hartwell said it is not his office's responsibility to collect much of those funds. Judicial action is required to involve a collection agency, and the state's attorney's office is responsible for collecting the money due on its cases, he said.

Hartwell said he has worked with the judiciary and state's attorney's office to chip away at the figure.

Barreiro also said people trying to use the clerk's court-document system are experiencing a lot of glitches.

"I have heard this from many people, that are so frustrated with the system," she said, specifically citing attorneys and judges.

Hartwell acknowledges that there continues to be problems with the Tyler Technologies system, which was installed in 2016. The office is planning a major upgrade of the system, but it was pushed "way back" due to the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

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"None of the judicial partners has suggested we need to get a new system," Hartwell said.

Barreiro said if elected, she will push for state legislation to prevent elected circuit court clerks from having another job. "It is very important that it be a full-time job," she said.

Hartwell said allegations that he continued to work as a private attorney while being clerk are untrue.

"I have worked very hard full time. My (law) practice has been closed. This is what I focus on continually," he said.

The circuit court clerk oversees the equivalent of more than 100 full-time employees and is responsible for maintaining the records and accepting payments for cases filed in Kane County's 16th Judicial Circuit Court.

Hartwell, who lives in Elgin, has been an attorney since 1985. He also served on the county board.

Barreiro lists her recent employment as being in the management/client services field. She previously worked as an administrative assistant for a finance firm and for the Kane County clerk.

For more election coverage and help filling out your ballot, visit dailyherald.com/election.

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