Two candidates are listed on the Nov. 6 ballot for Williamson County clerk. Responsibilities of this elected position include serving as clerk of the county court system and the county commissioners court. The clerk also issues marriage licenses, acts as a recorder of deeds, takes depositions, and maintains county records. Clerks are elected to four-year terms. Candidates were asked to submit responses by email. Some responses may be edited for length.
Nancy E. Rister (Republican Party) (*incumbent)
Occupation: county clerk
Experience: 20 years of experience as county clerk
Top priorities: continue to strive to bring the best customer service available while using technology to become as efficient as possible and preserving the older records on paper and the newer electronic records
Jessica Tiedt (Democratic Party)
Occupation: senior technical support engineer
Experience: 12 years in technical support for business technologies
Top priorities: transparency, accountability and accessibility; Williamson County residents deserve to be able to access and export their information online and interact with the office outside of typical 9-to-5 work hours
Why are you running for this position?
Rister: I am running to continue to serve the citizens of the county as we transition to mandated criminal e-filing in the courts as we become paperless. We have already accomplished e-filing with civil and probate cases when e-filing was mandated by the Supreme Court in 2014. We did this as procedures and processes were changed to follow the mandated Supreme Court rules. We started e-recording in the real estate division in 2005.
Tiedt: I am running for Williamson County clerk because Williamson County residents deserve better from their government and their elected officials. The county clerk’s office, to date, has not adapted to the changing technologies, attitudes and work schedules of the people.
What is the top challenge facing the county clerk’s office?
Rister: Continued county growth means increased volume of all transactions and balancing that with more employees to keep up the current service level while keeping salaries at a sustainable level that are within the four budgets that I manage. Keeping this data secure and preserved are also top ongoing objectives and challenges in an ever-changing electronic world.
Tiedt: The top challenge facing the county clerk’s office is county residents’ relative lack of access to the information provided by the office. The information belongs to the people and providing technological solutions like online filing is one method to improve the challenges county residents currently face.
What changes do you want to make if elected?
Rister: I will continue to strive to bring the best customer service available while using technology to become as efficient as possible while preserving not only paper records but also electronic. We will soon have commissioners court minutes available online that go back to the 1800s which will be a great resource for public research to add to the real estate, birth, death, marriage foreclosure notices, civil, probate and misdemeanor cases, and alcohol wet/dry locations.
Tiedt: As county clerk, I want to increase accessibility to county clerk records, operate more openly and transparently, and expand the office hours beyond the current 8 a.m. to 5 p.m in order to accommodate the schedules of the working person. As a Williamson County official, I will also aid in registering students to vote.
What distinguishes you from your opponent?
Rister: Twenty years of experience as the county clerk, my B.A. degree in accounting and information systems from UTPB, [and] managing 43 staff and 4 conservative budgets helps distinguish me. I implemented plans to preserve county records from 1838 to present day. Our records online include the commissioners Ccourt records, deed records, marriage, birth and death indexes from the 1800s to current. My office has won awards for 19 years from the State Vital Statistics Bureau.
Tiedt: I believe in progress and in changing with the times. I believe in making the government accessible to the people. We are here to serve the people, not the other way around. Currently, the county clerk obfuscates their responsibilities to the people. My opponent benefits from maintaining the status quo, and the status quo does not benefit the people of Williamson County.