By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Experience does count.
Just ask Marie Hirst, who is seeking a fourth term as Canadian County court clerk.
Hirst is facing her former chief deputy – and fellow El Reno Republican Rindie Hunt – in the June 30 primary. The winner will earn the next four-year term.
The incumbent cited her 24 years of service in the court clerk’s office, the last 12 as court clerk.
“I believe this is not a job for someone who has no experience but for someone who has worked all aspects of the court clerk’s office and has the ability to make the tough decisions when necessary,” she said.
“This job is about knowledge and experience and the ability to teach and have a team of co-workers who do an excellent job. I think that is what the citizens of Canadian County want and deserve. That is why I and my team are their best choice.”
Hirst listed her vast knowledge of civil and criminal filings, traffic cases, record-keeping, bookkeeping, payroll, and even archiving.
Hirst pointed out she’s worked every division in the court clerk’s office – and wrote a manual for each one.
She noted that she’s the only court clerk with A+ certification and MCSC training, which helps when her office pilots new computer projects for the state Supreme Court.
The incumbent helped pilot a new jury management system that she said saved Canadian County some $30,000 in the first year.
Hirst also implemented a stand-alone system to archive and preserve all documents dating back to 1890.
Hirst serves on an Oklahoma Supreme Court advisory committee working to standardize and upgrade computer systems for all 77 counties.
“I am hoping that some of the guidelines I have helped write for email e-filings and new social distancing jury procedures can be used to help launch us into e-filings and become paperless,” Hirst said.
Her office is upgrading its Grooper system to save old archival documents safely and efficiently.
“My goal has been to get all of this information stored digitally and make it easily accessible to the public,” the court clerk said.
Hirst plans to update the Oklahoma Supreme Court Networks (OSCN) website “so it is easier and faster for everyone to navigate.”
With her experience, she also helps with orientation of new court clerks.
Hirst referred to some “special moments” she’s experienced while in office to fulfill judges’ requests.
One time she came up on the weekend to issue a marriage license for a military couple who could only be there that weekend.
Another time she helped a judge marry a couple in a hospital because the pregnant mother was bedridden and they wanted to get married before the baby was born.
Eyeing her fourth term, Hirst emphasized she’s not a career politician but a record-keeper and bookkeeper of the court.
She’s bound by law to make sure the court record is filed and kept as per statute, and to disperse more than $18 million a year through her office.
The court clerk is required to have a general fund budget and court fund budget while overseeing a revolving fund.
She’s also required to submit monthly, quarterly and yearly financial reports to Canadian County and the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
As she seeks a fourth term, Hirst reiterated her desire to serve the public using her knowledge and experience “to take our office into the future.”