Muscogee County is about to have another new Superior Court clerk, the third change in that position in two years.
Early and unofficial returns Tuesday showed challenger Danielle Forte with a 7,000 vote lead over incumbent clerk Shasta Thomas Glover, who just took office this past March.
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Glover, who came out of retirement to work as chief deputy clerk when her friend Ann Hardman took over in 2017, has been the clerk since Hardman’s death this past March 19, having been sworn in that same day.
The office has seen rapid changes recently: After then-Clerk Linda Pierce joined other local elected officials who sued the city over their budgets, claiming Columbus Council illegally cut them, she lost an election in 2016 to Hardman, who took office Jan. 3, 2017, and dropped the lawsuit.
Now another new clerk appears about to take over.
Forte at press time had won every voting precinct in Columbus. Combining those Election Day totals with the early in-person vote and the mail-in absentees, she had 31,773 votes to Glover’s 24,276, or 56 to 43 percent.
“To God be the glory – I am so pleased,” Forte said Tuesday night.
She pledged to use her experience as an attorney for 20 years to improve customer service in the office and upgrade the technology. Customers in Columbus deserve the same level of service as residents in Atlanta, Macon and Savannah, she said.
Forte is 49, and has worked as an attorney for the federal government in Atlanta and served as an assistant district attorney in the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit.
Glover is 63, and a veteran of the criminal justice system. She began her career as a police officer in 1983 and retired as director of the Aaron Cohn Regional Youth Detention Center in 2013, having worked her way up through the juvenile justice system, starting as an intake officer in 1994, after 11 years with the police department.
She held out hope for a late-night rally Tuesday.
“I’m still feeling good. I’m resting in the fact that it’s not over till it’s over,” she wrote in an email. “I’m a positive person. Life and death is in the power of the tongue. So I still say I win. So I’m positive till the last vote is counted.”
Holding some of the county’s most crucial records, the clerk’s office is an integral part of administering the law in Muscogee County and resolving disputes over property ownership. When pipes burst in the Columbus Government Center, among the first concerns are the deed books in the clerk’s office on the second floor.
Besides property documentation, the office stores and tracks all the civil records, the divorces and lawsuits and so forth, and all the criminal cases that come and go.