Edwards looks to future in clerk’s office

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Johnnie Felton Edwards Jr., considers the fact that he’s &uot;Suffolk grown, Suffolk known,&uot; a strong plus in his bid for the office of clerk of the court, a seat being vacated by the retirement of Henry C. Murden, court clerk for the past 51 years. Edwards is proud of the fact he’s a native of the city, and he has a definite vision toward the future of the clerk’s office with regard to service, teamwork and technology.

&uot;I think Mr. Murden has done an excellent job for the citizens of Suffolk,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;I think continuing to meet the needs of the city, dealing with the personalities in the court setting and the citizens coming in for services is extremely important to continue,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;I believe that teamwork and technology can help us meet all those needs.&uot;

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Edwards, a 1971 graduate of John F. Kennedy High School, is assistant principal at S.P. Morton Middle School in Franklin. He formerly held a number of positions with Suffolk Public Schools including teacher, assistant principal, supervisor of student services, coordinator of pupil personnel, and supervisor of planning.

He was kept busy as the School Board moved him from school to school. He served as a principal at Booker T. Washington Intermediate School, and worked at Forest Glen Middle School; then was transferred to the School Board’s central office. He was then moved to Turlington Woods School, returned to the central office as a supervisor of planning, and finished 2002 as acting principal at John Yeates Elementary School.

&uot;I’ve had to deal with people from one side of Suffolk to the other,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;I look at my undergraduate degree, a bachelor of science in business education, at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, with an endorsement in general office procedures as a definite plus in my career. Often, people look at teachers as teaching accounting, typing, keyboarding, and office skills, but I believe you if you can teach it you can also transfer those skills into the office setting.&uot;

He added that his minor degree in accounting will serve as a foundation for handling business in the clerk’s office.

&uot;I mean as far as going into the clerk’s office and being able to train staff, being able to be knowledgeable in the office…the operations of the office setting,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;My master’s from Old Dominion University is in educational administration, and I think when you are an administrator in education it provides you with skills to deal with people in any area. Dealing with the public, federal and local funds… it also prepares you to deal with budget preparation.&uot;

Edwards said he is also prepared to handle legal documents for the public as well as for Suffolk’s legal system.

&uot;I think in any new situation… if you have the foundation to understand how an office is set up and how the files and records are basically kept… those are the skills I will need as far as this position,&uot; he explained. &uot;Scheduling is involved in the school system, and in my last position in planning I worked with school records dating back to the 1920s and managed the records according to state guidelines. We were always calling and checking with the state libraries for the record keeping procedures. The record keeping procedures for all documents are similar.&uot;

The candidate said he also feels there may be some areas of knowledge in the clerk of the court’s office in which he may not be as strong as he’d like. However, he feels the knowledgeable staff in the office would be a great help to him.

&uot;With their experience, I could get on board and be able to be the leader or manager that needs to be in that office,&uot; he added.

Edwards also noted that with the growth the city is experiencing, he realizes that the office staff would have to be expanded to accommodate new needs.

&uot;Also, I would like for each staff member to cross-train so they could take over in an emergency situation,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;That way, the office could operate as efficiently as possible.&uot;

Edwards, 49, is divorced and the father of three grown children, all in college. Johnnie F. Edwards III is a senior at Liberty University. Yvette Edwards, an assistant volleyball coach, is completing graduate work at Virginia State University, and she is a former teacher for Suffolk Public Schools. Janice Edwards is beginning her sophomore year at Norfolk State University.

A member of Metropolitan Baptist Church, he attends a second church at times.

&uot;My son, Johnnie III, is an associate pastor at Piney Grove Baptist Church,&uot; said Edwards. &uot;He’s an ordained minister and I truly enjoy listening to him.&uot;