Bowles seeks to unseat Allen as clerk of courts

WARREN — A political newcomer who said she “simply wants to serve” is working to unseat a multi-term incumbent who has experience on both the city and county clerk of courts offices in Trumbull County.

Deborah L. Bowles, 55, is taking her first run at political office at the request of Trumbull County Republican chairman Randy Law.

“I am not so much running against Ms. (Karen Infante) Allen, but for the clerk of courts position,” Bowles said.  “I truly believe in term limits. People should not hold elective office for a long time, because they tend to get very lax.”

Allen, 50, a Democrat, has worked as Trumbull County’s clerk of courts since January 2005. She previously worked in various positions in Niles Municipal Court, including as its clerk of courts, its deputy civil clerk and computer systems administrator from 1988 through 2004.

She is serving her third term as Trumbull County clerk of  courts.

Allen is a 1990 graduate of Kent State University with a degree in communications.

“We are in the process of transferring our court dockets online, so the public may view documents through our open access website,” Allen said.

Allen said the office began researching placing images of court documents online a few years ago but found the process can be quite expensive because of the fact that they must redact information such as the defendant’s social security number and other sensitive information that are not public record from the docket.

About a year ago, the county went with a centralized imaging system. The vendor the courts will be using is CASNET, which processes millions of images.

The cost of getting the system will be between $45,000 and $48,000. It then will cost about $5,000  per year to maintain.

The clerk of courts office is paying for the system that will allow it to reproduce court documents online with money it earns through its computerization account. As part of the cost of each case that goes through the court is a fee for the computerization of the courts.

Bowles, a senior bookkeeper with Kissling, Amoroso & Company Inc., has been working in a variety of  jobs dealing with payroll and accounting since 1998. Over the  years, Bowles has managed staffs of more than a half dozen employees.

“If elected I will seek to improve efficiency in the office,” Bowles said. “The Clerk of Courts office can become a profitable department.”

Bowles believes she has the necessary people management skills to operate the office, and she said she has taken a class on being a court clerk to get familiar with the office.

She is the secretary of the Trumbull County Republican Party. She replaced Martha Yoder, who is suing Randy Law, chairman of the Trumbull County Republican County, because she was removed from her position.

Bowles believes the national presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could improve her chances of winning because it will bring out a lot of people who typically would have voted for the Democratic candidate to vote Republican in this election.

“People are looking for an alternative to what we’ve experienced in the past,” she said. “Like Donald Trump, I’m not a politician. I’m a person who wants to make a difference.”

Allen said the clerk’s office is looking at implementing a system that will allow attorneys and pro se litigants to electronically file their court documents.

“We did not want to be one of the pilot programs for e-filing,” Allen said. “We want other courts to address some of the start up problems.”

Allen expects it to take about a year to for the e-filing system to get on online once the county hires a vendor.

When Allen first took office in 2005, its auto title office had a deficit of $60,000.  It now has a surplus.

“The title bureau is not being subsidized through the county,” she said.

It earns about $660,000 a year for the county.

The total budget of the Trumbull County Clerk’s office is about $2.1 million a year, including the money earned by the auto title division. The department has 28 employees.