The Candidates for Seminole County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller were in Altamonte Springs on Saturday afternoon for the monthly meeting of the Republican Women’s Club of Seminole Federated to make their case to the room full of members why they should be the one to take over for an incumbent who is retiring after over 25 years in office.
Former Seminole County Commissioners Grant Maloy, Mike McLean, and Seminole County Sheriff’s Captain Sammy Gibson all took part in the anticipated forum, that was moderated by News 13 Political Analyst Michelle Ertel and the tone throughout the discussion was polite with the candidates agreeing on the same philosophies involved in running the office.
Candidate were asked to same something positive about their opponents to lead off the forum. All three candidates praised their opponent’s commitment to raising their families and previous work in the community to make Seminole county a better place to live.
Each of the candidates were asked what they believed was the best use of the current budget. Gibson believed in challenging the status quote by upgrading technology in the office. McLean also believed the office need a technology upgrade but also encouraged seeking more opportunities to bring in more income. Maloy was critical of recent state-wide budget cuts and calling the current funding model that redistributes revenues among different offices socialism.
The recent controversy of Kentucky Clerk of Courts Kim Davis and her refusal to issue a same-sex marriage licenses was discussed, with each candidate asked what they believed was the office’s role on the matter. All three believed they were required to respect the law and behave accordingly.
When asked what makes them uniquely qualified to be the next clerk, McLean outlined the three major duties with the position and how they lined up with the responsibilities with his current business. Gibson cited his decades of experience working with the law enforcement budget and establishing steering committees for big decisions. Maloy believed in retaining quality talent and delegating duties appropriately.
Maloy continued saying his visits to Clerk’s offices around the state were some of the steps he was taking to prepare him for the job. McLean believed he had an understanding of the needs of the “end user” that would allow him to be effective. Gibson cited his law enforcement career working under Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger, who was on hand for the debate, as the mentor-ship that has prepared him to lead.
All three candidates, who are currently working in different fields, pledged to be a full time Clerk and Comptroller. When asked what was the most important duty of the office, Gibson and Maloy believed all duties were equally important, while McLean focused on the auditing function of the county’s $850 million dollar budget as especially important.
Beforehand sources familiar with the race believed the candidates might have used the forum as an opportunity to take the contest in a negative direction. The only audible jab taken during the discussion was Maloy referring to his grassroots campaign in contrast to Gibson’s budget, which allowed him to regularly afford a consultant.
Despite the solidarity on display between the three candidates at the forum, the contest to replace long-time Clerk Maryane Morse, is expected to be the most competitive municipal level race in Seminole County this year.