Yon challenging Barger for Rowan Clerk of Court

Published 2:14 am Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The race for Rowan County Clerk of Superior Court pits a longtime incumbent, Jeff Barger, and a newcomer to politics, Sandy Yon.

Yon, 63, is the first challenger in some time to run against Barger, 55, who’s held the clerk title for the past 16 years.

“I’m taking it seriously,” Barger said. “I’m doing everything I can to be able to stay in office.”

Barger is banking on his past experience to help him return to the job he said he loves doing.

“I enjoy my job. I enjoy what I do,” he said.

Barger joined the clerk of court’s office working as a deputy for four years prior to being elected to the top job.

He was a magistrate for more than six years before being appointed to the clerk’s office to fill the term of then-clerk Ed Norvell, who left to return to private law practice. Barger was unseated in 1994 by Terry Osborne and then returned to the job four years later, where he has remained.

The clerk of court presides over many legal matters, including adoptions, incompetency proceedings, estate hearings, jury instructions and foreclosures. The clerk is also responsible for all clerical and record-keeping functions of the District and Superior courts. His staff consists of 39 employees.

Yon is running for political office for the first time but says she’s always been interested in public service.

She’s met politicians while taking part in the Crescent Republican Women. She is a past president of the club.

“I felt one day I would probably do the same,” she said of running for office.

Yon said she feels the work she’s done in the private sector as a patient services coordinator at Faith Internal Medicine qualifies her to take on the job of clerk of court.

She adds that her people skills and past leadership skills will aid her well in the position.

The processes are similar for both the clerk of court’s office and the medical field, she said.

“I feel record keeping and the interaction with all different types of people — I think it’s all similar,” Yon said.

She pointed to the HIPPA medical privacy laws and the laws of the criminal justice system as an example of the similarities. “I have the people skills. I don’t know everything about the clerk’s office, but once elected, I will through the school of government,” she said.

Yon said she has a desire to serve and be accountable to the citizens as clerk of court.

Since filing, Yon said, she’s learned several things about the clerk’s office, including that it is “very involved” and there are “people at different phases of their lives that come into contact with the clerk’s office.”

Barger currently serves on a technology committee that was formed by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

He said technology is one of the areas of the clerk’s office that he’d like to improve, but has been limited by funding.

“We are governed by what the state gives us,” he said.

He added that the court system overall has suffered because of a lack of funding.

“The state hit the court system hard with budget cuts,” Barger said.

He said he lost two positions several years ago when the state offered severance packages to people who’d served more than 30 years.

He said it hurt his office when it couldn’t fill those positions, but he commended his staff, saying it continued to provide great services with fewer resources.

Yon hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the office and use the knowledge she’s gained through her work in the medical field.

“I want to pledge to all citizens of Rowan County that I will always conduct the affairs of the clerk of courts office so as to never betray your trust and bring dishonor to the clerk’s office,” Yon said.

Yon and her husband, Tony, have two adult children. She is a member of First United Methodist Church.

Barger and his wife, Carolyn, are members of Faith Lutheran Church. Barger has two children, two stepchildren and one granddaughter.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.