Hillsborough Court Clerk Cindy Stuart on partnerships, innovation & equity

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Hillsborough Clerk of Court & Comptroller Cindy Stuart
Hillsborough Clerk of Court & Comptroller Cindy Stuart

Hillsborough County Clerk of Court & Comptroller Cindy Stuart is only the second woman in history to be elected to the post after her predecessor Pat Frank. She is now running for a second term. So far, she does not have an opponent and she told WMNF WaveMakers with Janet & Tom she thinks that’s because she has handled the job without letting politics get in the way.

Stuart served eight years on the Hillsborough School board before she was elected in 2020 in the Democratic primary because no Republicans ran.  She oversees a staff of 650 and a budget of $60 million, and her duties include being and independent check on the judiciary and county government.

Hillsborough County has had an elected clerk of court since before Florida was a state thanks to Andrew Jackson. He was the territorial governor and wanted an independent check on judges and county commissioners. So it was written into Florida’s first Constitution and has been there ever since.

Three words, Stuart said, define the work her office does: Equity, transparency and independence. “We equitably treat everyone who comes before us,” she said. Her staff works independently without influence from those they serve and are transparent to the public.

The Clerk’s Office handles all aspects of jury duty, and started allowing those summoned for jury duty to donate the $15 a day they are paid to Tampa’s only domestic violence shelter, The Spring of Tampa Bay, or the Guardian Ad Litem program. Last year those donations totaled nearly $50,000.

Her office also issues all marriage licenses in Hillsborough and will even perform low-cost marriage ceremonies at the courthouse. On Valentine’s Day, Stuart will perform a mass wedding ceremony in Joe Chillura Park across the street from the Pat Frank Courthouse for up to 60 couples. You have to register to participate.

Stuart also discussed how she oversees Hillsborough County’s billions in dollars of revenue, how she’s made it easier for victim of domestic violence to obtain restraining orders and the difference in being a policy maker as she was on the School Board and an administrator carrying out policies set by others.

Hear the entire conversation by clicking the link below, going to the WaveMakers archives or by searching for WMNF WaveMakers wherever you listen to podcasts.

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