Yvonne Pettus and Linda Enlow have quite a bit in common.
Both are Democrats running for Thurston County Clerk, and both have already served as the office’s second in command.
But their viewpoints on one issue — the proposed implementation of a new document management system — are completely opposite.
The clerk serves as the administrative and financial officer for Thurston County Superior Court and has an annual salary of $105,276. The clerk’s office has a staff of about 40 people and is responsible for more than 2.5 million legal documents in more than 250,000 case files, according to the agency’s website.
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Pettus, 57, who lives near Lacey, is the current chief deputy clerk and has the political backing of her boss, Thurston County Clerk Betty Gould.
She worked for the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts for 20 years, and she served as the court administrator for Tacoma Municipal Court for seven years before joining Gould’s office on Oct. 1, 2012.
“Since I became chief deputy, we’ve become completely paperless,” Pettus said.
She believes the document management system that Enlow is proposing for Thurston County could shift ownership and responsibility of some court records from the county to the state.
“We would lose control over some of those records,” Pettus said.
The program is part of a case management system for the courts that is being implemented in counties across the state. But some counties are opting out of the Odyssey portion.
Pettus said Odyssey also would require a $5 fee for electronically filed records that don’t cost anything right now.
“It’s a huge access to justice issue,” Pettus said.
Enlow, 55, of the Johnson Point area, supports the proposed document management system.
She works for the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts and is on a project team working on the implementation of the statewide case management system.
Enlow said the county would save about $300,000 a year in licensing fees and technology staff cuts related to implementing Odyssey.
She said the $5 filing fee is optional for counties, and she wouldn’t charge it.
“There would be no charge for e-files in Thurston County,” Enlow said.
She also doesn’t think the new system would take away from the clerk’s responsibilities.
“The state would be another repository for those documents,” Enlow said.
Enlow served as deputy clerk under Gould for 21 years.
“I actually was groomed by the incumbent to run for County Clerk eventually,” she recently told The Olympian’s Editorial Board.
But in August 2012, Enlow said she was asked to leave without an explanation.
“I don’t really to know this day,” she said of the fallout. “I’m still baffled.”
In an interview last spring, Gould said she brought Pettus in as part of an “administrative change” for her office.
“I knew she was the person who would lead this office even better than I can,” Gould said.
If elected, Enlow said she would reopen the Clerk’s Office during the lunch hour. She said she’d also maintain the office’s staff levels.
Pettus said she’d keep the county’s current document management system, which costs about $63,000 a year in license fees but brings in about $60,000 in document sales.
She said one of her main priorities is to increase access to the courts for victims of domestic violence by placing more kiosks — where victims can remotely file for protection orders without going to the courthouse — in outlying areas of the county.