Superior Court Clerk: Jeffrey Mangis
Name: Jeffrey Mangis
Office running for: Clerk of Superior Court
Political experience: Chief deputy clerk to Beverly Frame; incumbent clerk of court
Family: Wife and 4 children
Please describe your platform? My “platform” would be experience. I was recommended to this position by my predecessor, the presiding judge, the Arizona Clerks Association, the Supreme Court and local leaders from both parties … for just one simple reason. I am the most experienced person for the position. I know all facets of the clerk's office and how it must function in order for Superior Court to operate efficiently. I understand the public interaction, the operations in the courtroom, the management of all case types, efficient juror management, and, most importantly, the duties as the fiduciary officer for Superior Court. That experience provides the leadership that 40 staff members and Superior Court relies on.
If elected, what is your first priority? To continue to push forward with accomplishing more when being faced with decreasing budgets. Since I've been in the clerk's office, I have directed many changes in automation to make the office and Superior Court more efficient. Documents are retrievable via a document management system, and microfilm is currently being transferred to images. I was the pilot court project manager for a new case management system for the 13 rural Superior Courts, and am still leading committees to improve the system. For the first time ever, Yuma County has a Self Service Center available on the clerk's web page to access forms for various cases. We are adding forms daily for staff and the public. I am also serving on a committee that will develop and interface between probation and the clerk's office to make both offices more efficient. Within a year, there is a good chance that E-filing will pilot in Yuma County Superior Court. I have to continue to find ways for automation to help staff meet our growing mandates as volume continues to increase.
Who do you think is your biggest challenger and why? My biggest challenger isn't a “who,” it's a “what.” Every year more mandates are placed upon the clerks of Superior Court. Every year, new or modified legislation and rules increase the requirements of my office. More data needs to be tracked. Many more documents need to be restricted or sealed to protect parties. More agencies or parties require notification of what is occurring in Superior Court. As the mandates increase, staffing levels remain the same. That is why the biggest “challenger” is also the first priority. We have to meet our mandates with the same number of man hours we've had for several years. It isn't a complaint, it is merely a fact. It is a very big challenge.
What do you think sets you apart from your opponent(s)? What sets me apart is my experience and the knowledge that I have acquired from my tenure in the clerk's office. For six years I had the luxury of working side by side with Beverly Frame, a clerk who retired with 40 years of experience in the clerk's office. Beverly ensured that I was involved in every aspect of the office, and in state wide matters that affected the clerk's office. She knew how incredibly vital it was, and is, to have a clerk with experience, and the only way to get that experience is to perform the duties. She set up the transition so that when it was time for her to retire, and when I was ready, I would get appointed to the job just as I did. If you don't have the advantage of relying on someone with 40 years of knowledge to teach you this job, I believe it would be impossible to come in and be the effective leader who is needed.
What would you do to achieve more transparency in government, and should government officials be in charge of managing those efforts? I'm proud of the judiciary as a whole for its transparency. Most records are public records that you can come in and view. Case information is available via the web. Jan. 1st of this year, statutory changes became effective that place minute entries generated by my office on the web for people to read. Supreme Court Rule 123 was recently modified to create more transparency and access to public records. I believe that workgroups with officials and the public are most effective to create these types of changes and support them fully. Just as important however, is my responsibility to manage the record so that something that is not public does not become public. I owe both duties equal attention and work hard to see those goals are met by the office.
Public notices are regarded as one important way for the public to find out what is really happening in government. Newspapers currently not only print public notices but also operate a free, consolidated, online, searchable database. Some people advocate that public notices should be available only on government websites. Do you agree that the Legislature should change the current law to mandate that public notices be available only on government websites? No. I believe that we have to meet the demands and desires of the public. As long as there is a significant number of the public that desire public notices in the “paper” world, we need to provide that to them.
What do you think is the biggest challenge right now facing Yumans, and Arizonans? That's easy: the budget crisis. There are no easy answers or fixes. Those have all been expended by state government officials. They still have hard choices in front of them that are going to affect every town and county in Arizona. I've said several times that the Yuma County Board of Supervisors and County Administrator are to be applauded for the job they have done. They have held a fiscally responsible position that has left Yuma County and its employees in a better position than several other counties. The next two years will present more challenges to Yuma County residents. It won't be easy, but I'm confident that we will continue to work together and get through the difficult situation.
What would you do, if elected, to help change that? I'm not sure there is much that can be done from the clerk's perspective to make that kind of change. It still comes back to the number one priority, finding a way to do more with less without over working and wearing down your employees. It is a very hard burden on them. This is the second year of salary freezes. People's families grow, they need more insurance, cars break — life happens. It is very difficult to push them so hard when you don't have the opportunity to reward them for the outstanding jobs that they do. If there is any way I can be more fiscally conservative so that at the beginning of fiscal year 2012 we could offer them some salary increase, that would be my goal.
What is one of your strengths? Weaknesses (something you'd like to improve upon)? Strength: reaching out to help people. I enjoy helping someone who has no idea how they've ended up in the Superior Court system. We can never provide legal advice, but if I or my staff is able to provide information that just helps that person feel a little more at ease, that's a good feeling.
Weakness: learning to say “no.” The Supreme Court picks our office and Superior Court quite frequently to “pilot” some change. Once you're the pilot, you remain the pilot to all those other counties for a long time. And I'm asked to serve on committees and subcommittees to help things move along. It's hard to say no, but sometimes I have to so that I'm here serving my county and leading my office.
What is one thing that you want voters to know? I'd have to say that I'm passionate and very proud about the clerk's office and Yuma County Superior Court. All the experience given to me by Beverly and people like Judge Tom C. Cole carries a lot of responsibility. I feel we set the bar of excellence for the rural courts and never want to see that change. Judge Cole instilled in me that Yuma County “is a can do” court family. That is how I approach my mandates and the expectations I have of the clerk's office. I believe those are the expectations the voters have. My office and I work hard every day to meet those expectations.
Is there anything else you'd like to add? I appreciate your time and this opportunity, and I plan on serving Yuma County with continued pride for many years to come.