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Older Altman to run for clerk of courts

The Democratic candidate is County Commissioner Peter Altman's brother.

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
Published April 6, 2004

NEW PORT RICHEY - Perhaps politics runs in the family.

Robert Altman, a New Port Richey attorney and older brother of County Commissioner Peter Altman, has filed the paperwork to run for clerk of courts.

The older Altman picked a formidable opponent for his first campaign: Clerk of Courts Jed Pittman, a Republican who has held the seat since 1976.

But Robert Altman, a Democrat, thinks he can bring some innovations to the office, which keeps track of county and circuit court records, officially recorded documents such as property deeds and the minutes of County Commission meetings.

"I think there could be more of a service approach in serving the community that's basically paying the salary of everybody out there," said Altman, 48.

One example: Altman said the clerk could set up a desk at the Tax Collector's Office so people could pay their traffic tickets without going to the courthouse.

Altman also said that on certain forms, the clerks should be allowed to fill in missing information provided by the attorneys by phone. Currently, the attorneys must come to the courthouse to add a Social Security number or a date, then send the paperwork back to be reprocessed, he said.

And the clerk's office should make scanned images of certain documents, such as real estate transfers, available for free through its Web site, Altman said. Pittman balked at the idea a few years ago, saying it would deprive his office of the revenue it gets from charging $1 a page for those documents at the courthouse.

"As fast as our county's growing, I think that would be helpful in keeping down the cost of the clerk's office in the future," Altman said. "You either have to hire additional personnel to handle the additional work, or you get some of that (information) on the Web site to reduce the flow of traffic."

A New Port Richey native, Altman graduated from Gulf High School and earned his bachelor's degree of science and business administration at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. He earned his law degree from Stetson College of Law and has been practicing for 23 years, specializing in estate planning, probate and real estate law.

He belongs to the Seven Springs Rotary Club, where he is a past president, and he helps organize the Odessa Rodeo and Festival, among other community activities. He and his wife, Bobbi, have two sons: Mitchell, 16, and Clayton, 14.

The clerk of courts is elected countywide for a four-year term. The job pays $122,457 this year. The race will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

- Bridget Hall Grumet covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is hall@sptimes.com

[Last modified April 6, 2004, 01:35:40]


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