Experience has prepared Carter for the ‘big job’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 2, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

To say Randy Carter takes his campaign for Clerk of the Court seriously would be an understatement.

Once he decided to jump into the fray, he went in headfirst.

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Last week during an interview at the News-Herald, Carter said he immersed himself in the workings of the office, first by talking at length with the late Henry C. Murden, Suffolk’s long-time clerk, after he announced his retirement.

&uot;I had been thinking about as time went on that I’d like to be in that position,&uot; said Carter, an attorney, who has worked in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office for the past 17 years. &uot;I thought I could bring some good ideas to the office in the areas of computerization, on-line access and management strategies I’ve learned in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office. It’s a challenging job and something I’d like to undertake.

Up until Murden announced his intention not to seek another term, thinking about it was all Carter could do.

&uot;I didn’t want to challenge Henry, but his retirement announcement was the catalyst there. I didn’t want this to pass me by. Now was the time to make the move.&uot;

Carter said he sat down with Murden and asked a lot of questions about the way he ran the office. He went to the state compensation board to look at staffing levels, studied the office’s budget to familiarize himself with how money was being spent and, of course, talked to staff members.

&uot;It was important if I was going to go out and campaign for this thing that I have a good idea of what takes place.&uot;

Carter also noted that many times a position looks attractive when one is looking at it from the outside but upon closer inspection, sometimes that’s not the case, &uot;but for me, it was,&uot; he said.

Carter noted, too, that running the clerk’s office is a big job. He said the office performs 800 duties, the most vital of which are recording the 150 deeds a day that go through the office and the 1,200 criminal felony files handled on an annual basis. From his work as a prosecutor, Carter knows the proper handling of those files can mean the difference between a conviction and a criminal being set free on a technicality.

While the bulk of Carter’s experience is, of course, on the criminal side – experience, he’s quick to point out that none of his opponents have – he did spend a few years in private practice after graduating from Virginia Tech and Campbell University School of law, where he gained experience with deeds, estates and closing loans.

While he considers his legal background his strongest case for being the most qualified candidate for the job, it was a two-year hitch in the Army in the 1970s that was likely the biggest influence on his life.

&uot;That was a real important thing for me,&uot; he said. It wasn’t the most pleasant thing, but it did so much for me. It gave me discipline and caused me to be able to learn how to live independently, how to get things done and how to deal with people.&uot;

Another big influence, of course, was his father, W. Randolph Carter, who practiced law in Suffolk for 44 years. Carter said his biggest disappointment of the campaign has been that his father died three years ago and wasn’t around to help.

&uot;I dearly miss him now and sure wish I had the benefit of his council,&uot; Carter said. &uot; We had talked about it before he died and he thought it would be a good idea.&uot;

Most of the elected officials and organizations that have involved themselves in the campaign seem to have jumped on the Carter bandwagon. He has received endorsements from Henry Murden, Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs, Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson, the Suffolk Democratic Committee, the Virginian-Pilot, the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, the Suffolk Police Officers’ Association and the Professional Firefighter and Rescue Association.

While he’s proud of all the endorsements, Carter said the endorsement from Murden is particularly important.

&uot;I really do want to be the next clerk of court and Henry’s endorsement is really compelling,&uot; he said. &uot;He was in a unique position when he announced to know what it takes to be the clerk of court. He had a chance to look at all the candidates and he chose me.

&uot;He was looking for a smooth transition, somebody who had the qualifications and someone who was going to take the place to the next level. He deeply cared for the office and didn’t want someone to come in and just be a caretaker.&uot;

Carter has been married to his wife, Lucy, for 15 years, and he noted that the campaign has not allowed them a lot of time together for anything other than campaigning and yard work. Nonetheless, he said the campaign has been a wonderful experience, one that has taught him a lot about Suffolk.

&uot;One of the things I’ve learned is that we’re not quite as divided as a people as one might think. When you sit down and talk, there’s a great commonality of interest,&uot; he said. People want good government. There chief concern is basically that the office be run efficiently. They want to know that when they come in there their needs are going to be met.&uot;

Carter noted that he has attended countless civic league meetings, worship services and events throughout the city and that he is grateful for the opportunity to have met so many wonderful people.

&uot;I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of it,&uot; he said.