As Your Clerk I will
- Restore honesty, integrity, and accountability back to the office
- Balance the budget and ensure the General Sessions Court Clerk office is self-sufficient
- Establish random audits within the office for quality control
- Provide quality services for those who need the office
- Continue programs to combat domestic violence including the elderly, children, and pets
In 1996, former State Rep. Chris Turner defeated John Ford to head up the GSCC. Turner provided solid management of the office and returned $13 million to county taxpayers over the length of his term. Ford was later convicted of bribery in the Tennessee Waltz scandal. Since County elections are partisan, several nominees of the Democratic Party had come close to defeating Chris Turner despite his stellar record in office. 2004 Democratic nominee Roscoe Dixon was later convicted of bribery and extortion. In 2008, in a wave election that propelled Democratic candidates into office, former basketball player and perennial candidate Otis Jackson was elected. Within just two years, an office that had been known as one of the most well-run agencies of county government started to become a public embarrassment.
First came the stories of lavish parties being held in the office and paid for by taxpayers. Then we learned that he was demanding that his employees raise funds for his re-election campaign in order to keep their jobs.
Here is just a sampling of the articles from the Commercial Appeal detailing the mismanagement, incompetence, and even criminal misdeeds regarding Otis Jackson’s term in office:
- Shelby County General Sessions Clerk Otis Jackson’s ethics under inquiry
Pressured staff for donations, several testify
- Grand Jury Continues Jackson Probe
- General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson Indicted
- Editorial: Court clerk called for a foul
Almost 100 cases of alleged misconduct should persuade public officials that they’re being watched.
- Court Clerk Suspended with Pay
- Letter: A deal too sweet for indicted clerk
- General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson seeks to overturn suspension
- Suspended clerk Otis Jackson arraigned; special judge to handle misconduct case
- Indicted court clerk Otis Jackson loses bid to lift suspension
- Indicted Court Clerk Otis Jackson plans to run for office again
- Editorial: Evaluating Otis Jackson
Finally, Otis Jackson was suspended and removed from office. While we have no reason yet to question the integrity of his fellow Democratic replacement, it is clear that a change in the office is desperately needed. Rick Rout will provide the change to get this important office back on track.