Washington County Circuit Court Clerk announces bid for another term

Posted: February 2, 2018 at 1 a.m.

Kyle Sylvester
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Kyle Sylvester

FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington County Circuit Clerk Kyle Sylvester has announced plans to run for re-election.

"I've spent most of my life helping others, and this has been just a great avenue to continue to do that," Sylvester said.

What does the Circuit Clerk do?

The primary duties of the Circuit Clerk Office are: filing, docketing, attending court, issuing notices, managing records and reporting to the state Administrative Office of the Courts, according to the Washing County website.

Source: Staff report

Sylvester, 49, of Johnson said he has the required experience, is fiscally conservative and dedicated to keeping and making records more accessible to the public. Sylvester is a Republican who was elected in 2012 and ran unopposed in 2014 and 2016.

Adrienne Kvello, a Fayetteville lawyer and Democrat, has said she plans to run against Sylvester. She dropped her bid for the state House District 84 seat earlier this month.

The candidate filing period is from noon Feb. 22 to noon March 1. The primary election is May 22.

The Circuit Clerk's Office is responsible for handling all the records filed for Washington County Circuit Court with a budget of about $1.8 million, county records show.

Sylvester earns $109,447 a year. The salary amount is based on his length of service and state law.

The office handles thousands of cases from criminal to real estate. This past year, Sylvester's office handled about 10,000 newly filed cases, up about 22 percent from the year before, he said. Sylvester said he has managed to keep up with the volume increase without significantly increasing staff. The Quorum Court approved one new position for the office this year.

Sylvester said he supervises 24 full-time employees and two part-time employees.

During the past five years, Sylvester has shaved about $895,000 from his budget, he said. Much of that is from savings by improving technology and streamlining other services, he said. The county has transitioned to a statewide online system for accessing court records, which saves money, he said. He also opened an automated service for jury notification.

Washington County is waiting to hear from the state about being added to a network for electronic record filing. That move should make documents easier to file and navigate and save the county time, Sylvester said.

The Circuit Court Office's services are for everyone, not just lawyers, Sylvester said. For example, people need access to protection orders, divorce records and real estate documents.

"It's all public information, and we want our county to be at the forefront of accessibility and transparency," he said.

Sylvester spent 22 years in law enforcement, including 17 years as a supervisor, before being elected Circuit Clerk. He is involved with the Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association and was recently appointed to an opioid-fighting task force put together by the Association of Arkansas Counties.

"I'm always taking what I hear from other counties and bringing it back here and saying what can we do here to make this better," Sylvester said.

Sylvester has been married to wife Shannon for 14 years and has three daughters. The couple has been members of Mission Boulevard Baptist Church for more than 40 years.

Sylvester plans to continue to increase technology and efficiency in the office, if re-elected, he said.

"I wake up every morning, and I come to work, and I make contacts with people, and I think: How can we better serve our citizens?" Sylvester said.

NW News on 02/02/2018