Incumbent West Feliciana Parish Clerk of Court Felicia Ann Daniel Hendl will square off against a familiar opponent on Oct. 24, when she for the second time is challenged by Tammy Stevens DeLatte, a candidate she defeated four years ago.
A lifelong resident of West Feliciana, Hendl has served three terms as Clerk of Court. She previously worked as deputy clerk of court for seven years, a civil deputy sheriff for three years and managed Volt Technical Service for 10 years.
Hendl, a Democrat, said the main challenges the clerk’s office faces are money and space. The office operates solely on fees generated from copies, recording costs, lawsuit filing fees and through the issuance of marriage licenses, and birth and death certificates.
She said the office is on the cutting edge of computer technology and is constantly updating programs to make access to records secure within the office and online.
Because the future is trending toward digital record keeping, more than 200 land record books have been digitized. Conveyance indexes going back to 1811 are online and mortgage records are online back to 1981. The office is electronically interfaced with the tax assessor and the district attorney. Hendl said she has taken measures to secure records from external threats, and all records are backed up off-site nightly. She plans for the Criminal Department to go paperless and to have e-filing available.
“Customer service has been a focus of my administration and it is obvious to anyone who comes to research the records, obtain a copy of a document or generally seek help,” Hendl said by email.
A resident of West Feliciana for more than 29 years, DeLatte, a Republican, has worked as a legal secretary for attorney Charles Griffin in St. Francisville. She is also a licensed real estate agent, currently inactive. She has not held elective office in the past, but she has worked for the Feliciana Forensic Facility and Louisiana Department of Revenue.
DeLatte, who lost in the election four years ago with 34 percent of the votes, said she sees big challenges for the office, such as hiring, training and retaining quality employees. Other issues she identified included changing the online research services so that the public can access and pay for the service on an as-needed basis without having to pay a monthly fee and operating an efficient office while training employees and allowing them to become certified if they qualify to do so.
She said some of the ways the clerk’s office can be improved include providing Internet service to the deputy clerks so that they can communicate better with the District Attorney’s Office and the attorneys through the use of email.
DeLatte said she would also change the seating arrangement of the clerks to ensure that all of the full-time clerks are closer to the front to assist customers.
“I would also seek to raise employee morale by instituting casual dress day on Fridays and offering full-time employees who have been deputy clerks at least two years the opportunity to become certified,” DeLatte said by email.