Pretlow would bring years of experience

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

After 23 years practicing law and being in the real estate business in Suffolk, Kirk Pretlow knows how important it is that deeds are recorded promptly and everything is kept up-to-date.

The 52-year-old Pretlow has had almost daily contact with the office of Clerk of the Suffolk Circuit Court over that time, which is what prompted him to seek the office – this after vowing some five years earlier never to enter politics.


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&uot;Five years ago I told friends that if I ever ran for office to shoot me,&uot; Pretlow said laughing. &uot;But my feeling in regard to the Clerk’s office was ‘Who better to run than someone who has worked with it for 23 years?’&uot;

Pretlow doesn’t consider himself to be a political animal and the absence of any influence in dealing with social policy also attracted him to the race for clerk.

While he prides himself on not being a politician, he is the only candidate running under the banner of a party – he’s the Republican nominee – and that designation will gain him the top spot on the ballot. He said the nomination was offered and he wasn’t going to turn it down.

Still, he thinks the fact that he’s not a politician by nature has put him at somewhat of a disadvantage on this his first foray into the realm.

Practicing and abiding by the law, naturally, is a big part of Pretlow’s life. His father, Joshua, was City Attorney in Suffolk and impressed upon him the importance of integrity and honesty and that he was surprised to see that others apparently did not hold those qualities in as high esteem.

Pretlow said he was shocked at what he called the flagrant disregard of the rules on the part of many of his opponents where the issue of campaign signs is concerned.

Pretlow said he has been careful to obtain the permission of property owners prior to erecting signs and to avoid VDOT right-of-ways, as outlined in the information given to all candidates.

&uot;I’ve tried to follow the rules, but that has put me at a disadvantage,&uot; he said. &uot;Everywhere I put a sign, my opponents put them down and I’m the only one who has permission…It’s just been a total disregard. I will maintain my integrity. I’m not going to violate what the law is to when.

He also has taken issue with what he sees as misleading statements by his opponents, particularly that the clerk’s office is somehow lacking in computers and technology. Nothing, he said, could be further from the truth.

&uot;The clerk’s office has all the computers it needs,&uot; he said, noting also that a new clerk will have little influence over software used since much of this is dictated by needs to be in synch with state computers.

Pretlow is a graduate of John Yeates High School and the University of Richmond. He has served as president of the Jaycees and the Chuckatuck Ruritan Club. He has served as a Scoutmaster and is active in Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church.

When he is not practicing law, he’s typically active in his church, Wesley Chapel United Methodist, or spending time with his family, Pat, his wife of 27 years, and their children, Pat, 27, and Lila Kirk, 20.

For the most part, Pretlow said his campaigning experience has been positive. He’s knocked on a lot of doors and has gotten a good response from the people’s he’s talked to.

&uot;You find out a lot about your city and you lose weight,&uot; he said of going door-to-door.

He said there are few promises a candidate for Clerk can make that he or she can actually influence since so much of the office’s function is governed by statute, so he has refrained from making them. One thing he would commit to, though, is finding a way – even in the face of budget cuts – to keep the clerk’s office open as long as necessary to serve the citizens well. He said some offices around the state have cut back on hours and staff.

Absent a lot of promises, Pretlow is relying on his reputation to carry him to victory.

&uot;My belief was that if you treated people right and fairly your entire life, that they would come back to help you.&uot;