BELTON — Although Susan Parker and Joanna Flores Station filed to run for Bell County District Clerk in the Republican primary on the Monday after Veterans Day, the final vote in their race won’t be cast until after Memorial Day.
After neither Staton nor Parker was unable to secure 50 percent of the vote March 4 in the three-way race to replace Shelia Norman, Bell County’s longtime district clerk who is retiring at the end of the year, they were forced to extend their campaigns another 12 weeks for the May 27 runoff.
Parker pulled in 5,030 votes with Staton narrowly edging out Jeanne Guthrie for the second position with 3,456 votes to Guthrie’s 3,358.
The last major campaign opportunity for both candidates is Tuesday, when the Central Texas Tea Party hosts Houston lawmaker and radio host Dan Patrick and incumbent David Dewhurst who are campaigning in the Republican primary runoff for lieutenant governor at the Cathedral Oaks Event Center, 1312 Waco Road, in Belton.
Parker, who received a bachelor’s degree in business management from Texas A&M in Bryan and her law degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, trumpets her academic and legal credentials when she talks about her qualifications for the office.
“District clerk seemed like a good fit considering my education and background,” Parker said in February. “I have the legal training to interpret the regulations and requirements from the Legislature as well as any opinions from the attorney general’s office.”
She has brought up her experience in owning a law firm with her husband as proof of her ability to balance the district clerk office’s $1.2 million annual budget.
“I’m a small-business owner and unlike the federal government I have to operate within a budget,” Parker said at a March tea party gathering.
She articulated her philosophies on management and leadership by telling the crowd “the best management technique is to let employees be the best employees they can be.”
“I’ll train them and tell them step by step what to do,” Parker said. “But someone who is very hands-on and micromanages doesn’t allow employees to grow.”
Joanna Flores Staton
Staton, who has worked for 25 years in the court coordinator’s office, has turned her campaign into one about experience. In March, she told the tea party her years working in the district court coordinator’s office have given her a reputation as “a dedicated, hard-working county employee” and she plans to continue to support the county’s five judicial districts.
“I see the district clerk’s office as a natural extension of what I’ve been doing,” Staton said. “I’ve been working with the attorneys, judges and the public. Now I just want to take it to a different level.”
When she announced her candidacy in December, Staton promised that if elected she will look for more efficient managerial methods.
“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.”
When Staton was asked about her management philosophy, she told the tea party she plans to “let the girls at the counter know I’ve got their back.”
“I know it’ll be totally different from the court coordinator’s office,” she said. “I won’t have four or five people working under me, I’ll have 28.”
In February, she said she understood the job will come with a steep learning curve. “There are going to be things that challenge me, and things I have to learn,” Staton said.