By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
As she seeks a fourth term in office, Canadian County’s district court clerk is being challenged – by her former chief deputy.
Incumbent Court Clerk Marie Hirst of El Reno filed at 9:01 a.m. April 8, on the first day of the three-day filing period for Canadian County offices.
Just 12 minutes later, Hirst had a challenger when Rindie Hunt of El Reno also filed for the court clerk’s seat.
Hirst, 57, has worked at the Canadian County Court Clerk’s Office for 24 years and is in her third term and 12th year as the elected court clerk.
Hunt, 43, worked almost 16 years in the court clerk’s office including the last six years as chief deputy. Since January, 2018, she has been secretary/bailiff for Canadian County District Judge Jack McCurdy.
Both Hirst and Hunt are Republicans so the race will be decided at the June 30 primary election.
The winner will take office to start the next four-year term in January 2021.
Hirst has been at the Canadian County Court Clerk’s office for more than 24 years. She was elected in 2008 as the court clerk and is in the final year of her third term.
“Being elected for another term would allow me to continue to upgrade our court system and hopefully get all of our old documents electronically preserved, which has been a major goal of mine since getting elected 12 years ago,” Hirst said about her re-election bid.
Hirst has worked every desk in the court clerk’s office before she became the chief deputy and then ran for office when the previous court clerk decided to retire.
“I have extensive training with computers plus accounting and secretarial certification and have also received my court clerk certification,” the incumbent said.
The Canadian County Court Clerk’s office is working closely with the Administrative Office of the Courts to help develop an updated court system.
“We love testing and helping come up with new and creative ways to develop a more user-friendly and modern computer system,” Hirst said.
The court clerk’s office has modified the cost administration system to help clients when they are having a hard time making court cost and fine payments.
“Communication is the key,” Hirst said. “We want them to talk to us so we can help them when times are tough. This has also decreased our jail population immensely.”
The incumbent court clerk looks forward to the campaign and chance to serve another term.
“I love my job and the people I work with,” she said.
Hirst is married to Gordon Hirst and they have their own small carriage business, Hitchem Up at Hirst Farm.
Hunt joined the Canadian County Court Clerk’s office in April, 2000 and worked there until December, 2015 except for a brief stint in 2004-05 when she left for an education job. She was Hirst’s chief deputy for the last six years there.
“I just feel the court clerk’s office is where I belong,” Hunt said. “I love serving people and I just love public service. And I love Canadian County. That’s what I love to do.”
From the time she worked at the court clerk’s office, the challenger said her goal was to eventually become Canadian County’s court clerk.
Hunt left Canadian County in December, 2015 after her husband got a job in Louisiana, where the family stayed for a couple years. Upon moving back to Oklahoma, she began working for Judge McCurdy.
“I feel this is the right time for me and for my family,” she said of her decision to seek the court clerk’s seat. “I’ve always wanted to do that … that’s always been my goal.
“I just didn’t see that there would be a better time than now.”
If elected, Hunt will remain at the Canadian County Courthouse but move from the second to first floor. She has embraced her position as McCurdy’s secretary and bailiff.
“I have enjoyed every minute working for Judge Jack,” Hunt said. “He’s very respected and he’s an upstanding man. I couldn’t ask for a better boss or friend.
“I would hate to leave him for that reason. I just feel this is what I need to do for my family and the future of Canadian County. I just feel I could serve better.”
A native of Cheyenne in Roger Mills County, Hunt and husband Scott live in El Reno.