Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON - Both candidates vying for Marshall County Circuit Court have a history of public service. Incumbent Carla Marshall and challenger Melonie Chambers also agree the duties and functions of the office are set forth by its governing agency.
Marshall has been with the Clerk’s office since 1990, serving under W. J. “Toad” Brien. She was appointed to Chief Deputy under Carol Fisk.
“I was originally hired in the clerk’s office 21 years ago by Toad Brien,” Marshall said. “I served as Deputy Clerk under his administration. When Carol Fisk became clerk, she appointed me to serve as her chief deputy, which I served as until her retirement in Dec. 2008.”
Marshall served as chief deputy for 13 years before being appointed as clerk by Circuit Judge Dennis Foust in 2009 following Fisk’s retirement. Marshall ran and won the office in 2010 for a two-year term.
“The reason it was a two-year term was to get it back on track with all other circuit clerk’s offices,” Marshall said. “Normally it’s a six-year term. I’ve worked in this office for 21 years. I love what I do here, I love helping the public. I want to continue to have a friendly, helpful and knowledgeable office.”
Marshall is the widow of the late Bobby Marshall and the mother of three children, Nathan Marshall, Robin Conner and Jeremy Marshall. She is the daughter of Charles and Deborah Stone.
Chambers said familiarity with the court system has been life-long, first as an adoptee when she was six days old. Later, through her work and personal life, Chambers said she was influenced by past circuit clerk Martha Nell Holland, whose encouragement is part of why she has sought to serve the public.
“If I could have handpicked a family, I could not have picked a better one,” Chambers said of her parents Bill and Sue Watkins. “My mom and my dad were the world’s greatest parents. Dad always wanted to help other people. If there was some project dad could help someone do, he did it and I got to help tag along. That’s probably where I got a lot of wanting to help other people.”
Chambers has done that over the years through volunteering on a number of county and area boards. She has been a part of Marshall County Habitat for Humanity, Marshall County Caring Needline, Marshall County Chamber of Commerce, Marshall County Democratic Executive Committee, Marshall County Democratic Woman’s Club, Marshall County A & I Fair Board and nearly a dozen other boards and organizations.
She has been married to Brien Chambers for 32 years. The couple has three children, Cassie, Callie, and Chase.
Chambers has been the administrative assistant to Judge Executive Mike Miller since 1983.
“In 1985 I was appointed as fiscal court clerk,” Chambers said. “The responsibility is to be the official record keeper for the fiscal court, past and present. The responsibilities for the circuit clerk is the record keeper for the circuit and district courts. It’s different, but it’s similar.”
With the duties of the office regulated by the Administrative Office of the Courts, both candidates said the functions of the office would remain the same. Likewise, employees are considered tenured and there jobs would remain the same. Chambers said would stress the importance of making trips to the office a pleasant experience for customers.
“I have no control over the budget of this office,” Marshall said. “All of our programs are dictated by the state. Everything we have in this office is purchased by the state. We can only use technologies approved by the state.”
This year’s primary election will be held May 22. Circuit Court Clerk is the only county-wide seat on this year’s ballot.