Bibb Superior Court clerk candidates eye making office more user-friendly

awomack@macon.comOctober 10, 2012 

  • Bibb County Superior Court Clerk

    Linda Tillman
    Age: 53
    Occupation: Chief Deputy Bibb County Superior Court Clerk
    Political party: Republican
    Political experience: None

    Erica Woodford
    Age: 37
    Occupation: Attorney
    Political party: Democrat
    Political experience: None

The two women hoping to become the next Bibb County Superior Court clerk both want to make the office more user-friendly.

Republican Linda Tillman and Democrat Erica Woodford are vying to replace Dianne Brannen, who is retiring at the end of her term after 16 years in the office.

Tillman, 53, is chief deputy clerk in Brannen’s office, and Woodford, 37, is a local attorney and former magistrate.

Tillman said running for the clerk’s job is her next logical step after working as Brannen’s chief clerk since 1997.

The Depoy, Ky., native moved to Macon in 1984 and started working in the clerk’s office after serving stints as a paralegal and six years in indigent defense.

Tillman took advantage of a state program to replace the office’s outdated computers without taking money from the county coffers.

Under her leadership, Bibb County became the first in the state to scan documents into a computer system and now has the most extensive collection of real estate records digitally available in Georgia, she said.

To save the county money, Tillman has volunteered the office to be “guinea pigs” for other new computer programs. Piloting the current Internet-based court records management system saved taxpayers more than $300,000, she said.

“I think that the most important thing in this economy is to save our taxpayers’ dollars,” Tillman said.

Tillman also volunteered Bibb County to be the first large county in the state to electronically file child support cases, allowing the cases to move faster through the court system.

If elected, Tillman said she plans to volunteer Bibb County to be a test county for a new e-filing program being developed by the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority to bring e-filing to Bibb first. The statewide program is designed to be free to Georgia counties.

Woodford said she’s aware of the program, but she wants to do more research if she’s elected to determine whether the state program is the best for Bibb County.

Both women want to make the office able to accept debit and credit card payments. Currently, only cash, business checks and money orders are accepted.

Woodford, a Macon native, said she’s running for the office because she has a unique perspective of how to make the clerk’s office function better from her experience as a business owner, lawyer and a judge.

“I have a vested interest in this community because I’m from here and my family is here,” she said.

In addition to owning a law practice, Woodford has taught business and law-related classes at area colleges and technical schools.

If elected, Woodford wants to eliminate fees for online court record access. Records currently are available online for a fee.

Woodford said she also wants to reduce filing fees when possible and to develop a court records search application for smartphones and iPads.

Woodford doesn’t see herself not having worked in the office as a disadvantage. She said she’ll learn each person’s job if she’s elected.

Bibb County Superior Court records show Woodford’s home went into foreclosure in 2010, the Internal Revenue Service filed for a tax lien against a separate home in 2005 and the Georgia Department of Labor filed two writs demanding unemployment contributions in 2003.

Woodford said she broke her neck and legs in a 2009 car crash.

While recovering from her injuries, she was absent from work for several months and decided to let her home go into foreclosure, she said.

She attributed the lien and writs to errors made by her accountant. Court records show the debts since have been paid.

Woodford said she wasn’t aware of another writ demanding payment for a $214 overdue garbage bill.

Court records don’t show any liens against Tillman.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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