Two candidates—one a local lawmaker and the other a long-time employee of the office—are vying to determine who will be New Orleans next Clerk of Civil District Clerk. Currently serving as the District D representative on the City Council, Jared Brossett faces Chelsea Richard Napoleon, the chief deputy clerk who has served as interim clerk since April. On Nov. 6, Orleans Parish voters will decide which one will be the next official record keeper of Civil District Court, responsible for recording and storing land records, civil court filings, judgments and orders as well as storing and preserving archival records.
Describing himself as the only candidate in this race to ever be elected or re-elected to a position by the people of Orleans, New Orleans City Councilman Jared Brossett says he wants to bring the same level of commitment and administrative expertise to the office of Civil District Court Clerk that he has employed as a lawmaker in both his roles as the District D representative on the City Council and as a member of the state legislature.
Brossett adds that as a former legislator he has worked and voted to pass laws that benefit the clerk’s office, giving him insight on the role, needs and challenges of the position.
“I am running for the office because I want to make it more efficient, more professional and more user-friendly,” says Brossett. “Those that know me know that I have been accountable and responsive to the people I serve. I listen and I get things done.”
Brossett, who was instrumental in instituting a living-wage ordinance for city of New Orleans employees, says one of the first things he will do if elected is look at the wages of the employees in the clerk’s office.
He also plans to advocate for the building of a new courthouse, a move he says will improve the efficiency of the clerk’s office.
A new Civil District Courthouse building is not a new idea and has been proposed before, but any plans to build a new facility seem to stall when the cost of building a new courthouse and how to fund it are considered.
Brossett seems confident that he could work with other judges as well as the legislature to bring such plans to fruition.
“As a lawmaker, I have worked with different governors, different mayors, council members and legislators to get things done. I want to bring that leadership to the clerk’s office. ”
If elected, Brossett also says he will update software used to create and store records at Civil District Court and add more information kiosks for citizens to use.
Chelsea Richard Napoleon
Chelsea Richard Napoleon has more than 16 years of experience working at the Civil Court Clerk’s Office, with 11 of those years as chief deputy clerk under Dale Atkins.
She began serving as the interim clerk in April after Atkins’ election to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal.
And it’s that experience that Napoleon, who attended law school at night at Loyola while working full-time at the clerk’s office in the day and raising a family, says sets her apart from her appointment in the race and makes her the best candidate for Clerk of Civil District Court.
“I am running to continue to serve the citizens of Orleans Parish. I have direct experience in the clerk’s office as chief deputy and now serving as clerk. It is important that the clerk of civil district court has experience and is a lawyer. We are responsible for the processing of your civil law suits as well as all of your property records in Orleans Parish. When someone comes into the clerk’s office and has a question, those questions come to me and I can answer them.”
Napoleon says as chief deputy clerk and now interim clerk, she has insight and has performed the duties related to the position she now seeks.
“As chief deputy clerk I was already interacting with the judges, the attorneys and the citizens coming to our office,” she says. “I have already established those kinds of relationships. During the time that I have been clerk I have gained a new responsibility to be out in the community as a representation of the office. So I have been going out exposing the clerk’s office to the community, explaining what we do, talking to seniors about their family property.”
More than that, Napoleon says she has been responding to the needs that she has seen.
After noting that senior citizens were experiencing more challenges simply using the computer than younger, more tech savvy residents, Napoleon re-hired a retired employee to work part-time to help senior citizens with their property record searches and court filings.
“This part-time employee is focused solely on assisting senior citizens.”
Napoleon has also opened a new filing location on the first floor of the courthouse to make that task more efficient for citizens as well, she says.