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Juvenile Court clerk candidate drops race, regretting words

Juvenile Court clerk candidate Rita Jorgensen earlier this week announced she would drop her bid to unseat incumbent Brenda Hyden, but her name will still appear on the ballot and the words she chose have upset a few people.

Jorgensen was quoted in a Williamson Herald eblast Monday saying the main reasons not to move forward as "little, if any, opportunity to serve as an advocate for people." and "this position involves nothing more than being a glorified file clerk & office manager."

Today, she regrets her words and the impact they have had, adding she is working on a public letter of apology but offered these toned-down comments as to her reasons for leaving the race.

“Only since filing my petition, have I come to realize that there will be little, if any, opportunity to serve as an advocate for people, to help them more easily navigate the judicial process,” she said Wednesday. “I thrive in a job which involves making people happy and eases their level of stress. This is one of the main areas I had hoped to make a difference.”

Currently a law student at Nashville School of Law and worked as a domestic violence coordinator for 21st Judicial District Attorney Kim Helper’s office in Williamson County before resigning on Feb. 17 to make the race. Jorgensen said her priority now is law school.

“I am just now beginning to realize that the intensity of the campaign would take necessary energy from my studying and jeopardize my law school grades. My most important personal goal right now is getting through law school,’ Jorgensen said. “Stepping away from the race is extremely difficult; the ramifications of my decision are causing me deep grief.”

The deadline for candidates in the May 4 Republican primary to have their name removed from the ballot was March 25 and Jorgensen said she did not make her decision in time for that to occur.

“It was not until last Friday, the day after the deadline for having my name removed, that all of the pieces came together and I fully realized what I was getting into,” Jorgensen said.

“Part of my confusion has been that the job of Juvenile Court Clerk is handled differently from county to county,” Jorgensen said. “I believe Ms. Hyden is capable of handling the clerk's job as it is designed to be done in Williamson County. I will endorse her, although she really doesn't need it, with no competition now.”

Hyden has served as Juvenile Court clerk since 1990.

With Jorgensen’s decision to drop out of the race, that leaves two contested county-wide races. Trustee Joey Davis is facing a challenge from Gary Cordell of Grassland for the seat he has held since 1994, while Circuit Court Clerk Debbie McMillan Barrett is facing a challenge from Mike Bell to hold on to the post she was first elected to in 1998.

April 1 is the deadline for candidates to qualify for the Aug. 1 state primaries and county general elections, which includes the even-numbered seats on the Williamson County Board of Education and some seats on the Franklin Special School District Board of Education.

This week, 61st District state Rep. Charles Sargent filed his papers to seek reelection to his seat. A possible challenger, Jason H. Collins of Ploughmans Bend Drive, has picked up qualifying papers, which remain unfilled.

In County Board of Education races, several incumbents and challengers have picked up the papers to run for the offices, but none have qualified except Jessie Summerville-Myhre in the Fourth District, which is currently represented by Tim McLaughlin.

Posted on: 3/4/2010


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