BELTON — While the primary election is over for most people, candidates for Bell County district clerk are still on the trail.

Joanna Flores Staton and Susan Parker spoke with members of the Central Texas Tea Party at the group’s Tuesday night meeting.

Because none of the candidates in the three-way race to replace retiring Sheila Norman were able to score a clear victory March 4, Staton and Parker were forced into a runoff.

Staton told the near-capacity crowd at the Cathedral Oaks event center she has 25 years of experience working in the district court coordinators office and believes she has developed a reputation as “a dedicated, hard-working county employee.”

“I fully understand that the district clerk’s office runs on taxpayer money,” Staton said. “That is your money and I’m open to cutting costs where possible.”

The theme of balancing the office’s $1.2 million annual budget was addressed by Parker, who is an attorney, and she reminded the crowd of her experience in owning a law firm with her husband.

“I’m a small-business owner and, unlike the federal government, I have to operate within a budget,” Parker said. Precinct 3 Commissioner Bill Schuman brought up the Peter Principle, a management theory that states people are promoted to their own level of incompetence, and asked the candidates about their philosophies and approaches to leadership.

Parker, who was given the opportunity to answer the question first, said she believes in “guidance.”

“The best management technique is to let employees be the best employees they can be,” Parker said. “I’ll train them and tell them step-by-step what to do, but someone who has lots of hands on and micromanages doesn’t allow employees to grow.”

Staton began her answer by complimenting the current staff, which she described as “a great group of girls.”

“I’ll work with them, because I know that there’s going to be things that are totally different,” Staton said.

The primary runoff is May 27.

The last day to register to vote is April 28.

Early voting begins May 19 and ends May 23.

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