Ireton, McAllister will contend for Clerk of Court

One person has filed for Clerk of the Circuit Court in anticipation of the November 2018 election, and another announced plans to seek office.

James “Bo” McAllister, a Wicomico County Assistant State’s Attorney, filed and Salisbury City Councilman and former Mayor Jim Ireton said he will file in a couple of weeks, after returning from a family vacation.

The 47-year-old Democrat, who was mayor from 2009 to 2015, formally announced his candidacy Thursday on the steps of the Government Office Building.

The position of clerk will be vacant when Mark S. Bowen retires after 30 years.

The primary election is on June 26, 2018, and the General Election will be on Nov. 6.

McAllister, a Democrat, and graduate of James M. Bennett High School, said he found the opportunity to run for clerk “hard to pass up.”

He said he is familiar with the workings of the Clerk’ of Court’s office because he files papers in the courthouse there every day. He also is experienced in the new electronic filing system being phased in.

“Whoever takes over needs to have some experience,” he said.

Ireton said he will “lay out (my) vision for the Clerk’s Office and chart a course to fill the shoes of the Honorable Mark Bowen.”

Ireton, a graduate of Notre Dame of Maryland University and Salisbury University, said he has the “administrative experience to be clerk (because) he has run a city of over 400 employees and a budget over $50 million.”

He has longstanding relationships with court partners like the State’s Attorney, Parole and Probation and the Department of Juvenile Services through the work of his Safe Streets Coalition, he said.

Ireton declared commitment to educating the public and the legal community on “ever-changing laws that govern the Circuit Court” and “protecting the covenant that the public has with the court to hold and protect documents that are the basis of community life.”

“Changes come down from the legislature and from the office of the Court Administrator. You have to help educate all the clerks in the office about those changes and you have to help educate the legal community as well,” Ireton told the Salisbury Independent.

McAllister earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from James Madison University and law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.

After practicing in California for a few years, he accepted a position as assistant attorney general at Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, from 2012 to 2014. He returned to Salisbury and has been in the State’s Attorney’s Office since October 2014.

A native of Salisbury, he is the stepson of Salisbury lawyer John B. Robins IV.

Ireton said he has “really, really done my homework and there are days when it can be very heavy in the Clerk’s Office.”

“You have to be there to help your clerks get through that day, when they have free legal clinics and things like that,” he said.

He said his experience as mayor has given him the necessary experience.

“This office is not about calling balls and strikes. It is about a sacred covenant with the citizens here, with where they live, with the things lawyers have done for them. That building is sacred.

“Papers in there must be filed correctly. They must be where they are supposed to be. Someone like me, who has had so many opportunities, is able to say, ‘I will be that advocate. I will see that the covenant is protected and filed correctly,’” he said.

“There are going to be things I have to learn, just like the first time I walked into the mayor’s office, but you have to have the qualifications and that longstanding participation with the public. Being involved is one of the prerequisites for serving,” Ireton said.

A teacher for the past 24 years, he said he will retire from teaching if he is elected.

Bowen was first employed in the clerk’s office in 1983 and appointed Clerk of Court 1987.

He was first elected to the position in 1990.

The Clerk of Court is a locally elected state official whose office processes and maintains civil, criminal and juvenile actions.

The clerk administers oaths of office to officials, issues business and marriage licenses and performs civil marriage ceremonies.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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