Clerk of Court primary offers contrast
By Chuck Ballaro
One has worked in the Lee County courts system for 28 years, the other comes in from the county commissioners’ ranks, the way his father and great grandfather did.
GOP voters will choose on Aug. 14 between longtime clerk office official Linda Doggett and District 2 Lee County Commissioner Brian Bigelow for the seat to be vacated by retiring Clerk of the Court Charlie Green.
The victor of the primary will face Harry H. Beeman, a write-in candidate, in the November general election.
Residence: unincorporated Lee County
Occupation: Chief Operating Officer for the Clerk of the Court.
Doggett has vested most of her career there, having been with the clerk’s office since 1984. She was director of information technology for 10 years and courts department director for 10 years. In her current position, she has earned the endorsement of outgoing Clerk of the Circuit Court Charlie Green.
“I’ve touched every area of the office. I know the job, responsibilities, goals and statutes. I’ve been leading people for years,” Doggett said. “My applications have facilitated efficiencies and improvements that have crossed over into other areas like going paperless and electronic documents.”
Doggett said she was motivated to run to continue the work she and her soon-to-be predecessor have done.
“I know I have the qualifications, education, experience and leadership skills,” Doggett said. “I felt I had the civic duty to continue to step into that role and provide service to the community.”
She said her three-pronged attack upon election would be to continue making the office more efficient, more transparent and enhancing the internal audit function.
“I want to be sure our taxpayers’ money is being used efficiently. This is not a political office,” Doggett said. “About 95 percent of what we do is process the flow of information, and it takes a qualified person with a clear vision to do it well.”
Residence: Fort Myers
Occupation: District 2 Lee County Commissioner
Bigelow, a fifth-generation Lee County native, worked as a town planner before being elected county commissioner in 2006.
While he has not worked within the clerks office, he believes that his efforts as a Lee County Commissioner and budgetary experience makes him the ideal candidate.
“I’m one of five board members who oversees a $2 billion annual budget and more than 2,500 employees,” Bigelow said. “I have a larger budget than the clerk’s office and it’s that oversight experience that attracts me.”
Bigelow lives by the credo “experts are hired, but leaders are elected.” He sees himself as such in the way his father was when he served as commissioner in the 1980s.
“I’ve had six years of effective leadership and those are the people the electorate hires to lead the office,” Bigelow said. “There are over 900 functions of the clerk’s office and you would have to be superhuman to be an expert at all of them.”
Bigelow said his goal if elected would be to make the office more transparent, frugal and ethical and to make the auditing process more broad in scope.
“It’s necessary to assess the organization and start the audit department along the path of reform. I want to make it the inspector general for the department,” Bigelow said. “I’d like to see how we can maximize the dollars we take in.”