Mercer County Clerk Candidates 2015

Mercer County Clerk Candidates Answer League Questions

November 3, 2015 General Election Day

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.

EDITOR'S NOTE: These are the verbatim responses of the candidates for Mercer County Clerk to questions presented by The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area in cooperation with The Princeton Packet. The candidates were allowed to vary the length of their answers to the three questions but were given a word limit for the total.

Candidates – Vote for one (five-year term)

Susan Bagley - Republican

Paula Sollami Covello, Esq. (incumbent) – Democrat, County Clerk (completing 2nd 5 year term); attorney

What do you consider the most important challenges facing the office of Mercer County Clerk? Please note briefly what personal and professional experiences have prepared you for addressing these challenges and then describe what area you would focus your attention on and what you would do to achieve your goal.

Ms. Bagley:

No response by deadline.

Ms. Sollami Covello:

The most important challenges facing the Mercer County Clerk this year are: 1) The relocation and renovation of the Clerk’s Office in the next term and; 2) the purchase of new voting machines since current machines are more than 10 years old, and in need of voter verification capability.

The Office relocation will require moving the entire Office and staff to a temporary space, including the Record Room containing maps, books and property information dating back to 1838, without compromising their integrity, and the renovation of our permanent office.

My qualifications to lead these efforts are strong. I am an attorney who has worked in government administration throughout my career. Further, I have served as County Clerk for nearly 10 years. Throughout, I have demonstrated my leadership skills, eliminating a backlog in the recording of deeds and mortgages, which led to the dismissal of a County lawsuit. I scanned and preserved old books before the information contained therein was lost. I implemented e-recording technology so that documents could be recorded from title and mortgage companies off-site. I also improved our computer system so that work could be done faster and more efficiently to meet industry demand.

I also implemented changes in Elections. I have increased awareness of the vote-by-mail option by speaking throughout the County, and through advertising. I have also improved technology for obtaining election night results on the County Clerk’s website with detailed results by election district.

All of these improvements require leadership, oversight and keen attention to detail. They also require vision and understanding of the Office. I feel I am most qualified to take this office into the future.

Are you satisfied that the services offered by the Mercer County Clerk's office are accessible to citizens and the fees reasonable compared to other counties in New Jersey? Please elaborate.

Ms. Bagley:

No response by deadline.

Ms. Sollami Covello:

I believe the services of the County Clerk’s Office are accessible to the public. We offer late hours in our Trenton Office and I added a satellite office, the County Connection, in Hamilton Township. There, we offer passport services six days per week, with evening and Saturday hours. Also, I take passport services to the various municipalities throughout the County each year. With regard to fees, most are set in statute, and therefore, they are comparable to other counties.

What, if anything, can or should this office do to encourage voting in this county?

Ms. Bagley:

No response by deadline.

Ms. Sollami Covello: One of the ways we can increase voter participation is through increased education. We must advertise the vote-by-mail option aggressively so voters may vote early and at their own convenience. Lastly, I support legislation that removes barriers to voting.

MISSION STATEMENT: The League of Women Voters®, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

To read the responses of candidates for other offices and to find links to debates, go to the LWV-Princeton Area website.

The Princeton Area League seeks new members (men and women) from Kendall Park, Kingston, Montgomery, Plainsboro, Princeton, Rocky Hill, South Brunswick and West Windsor. Click here to become a member.