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PINELLAS CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT

Better management: The two share business backgrounds and a desire to improve efficiency and communication.

MICHAEL SANDLER
Published October 26, 2004

Ken Burke is a certified public accountant who grew up in Pinellas County. Carolyn "Carrie" Wadlinger is a retired Midwesterner who moved here after a career in health care.

Besides sharing strong business backgrounds, each wants to be the next Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court.

It's not often that Pinellas voters choose a clerk. This year's race features two highly experienced candidates seeking to replace longtime clerk Karleen De Blaker, who is retiring after 24 years on the job.

Burke is making his first run at public office, but he has plenty of local support.

He rallied to defeat Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst in August's Republican primary, even though Aungst had an eight-month head start and raised nearly twice as much money.

Burke has been stressing his qualifications as a CPA, an administrator for a law firm and vice president of a local title company. He also touts his local roots, having grown up in Pinellas and attended high school and college locally.

Burke's platform is to make the office more progressive. He wants forms and services accessible online. He would add "greeters" in every office who can answer general questions. He compared the idea with what people find at Wal-Mart.

"People are looking at government," Burke said, "and saying, "Is it efficient and easy to use?' The answer is "No!' unfortunately."

Wadlinger also talks about improving efficiency.

If elected, she would seek to improve morale through training and by encouraging staff's input. She wants to update the computer system, which she says has been in place since the 1970s. And she would also work toward establishing better communication with county commissioners, judges and her staff.

Wadlinger moved here from Ohio in 2000 after more than 30 years in the health care industry, specializing on the business side. She has worked for hospitals, consulting firms and even started her own company that processed Medicare and Medicaid claims. She sold her interests in 2000 and made a path for Florida.

Wadlinger has been politically active since arriving. She helped with Janet Reno's gubernatorial campaign in 2002 and Howard Dean's presidential run in 2004.

"I was able to retire at 55 and now I want to give back," Wadlinger said. "If you have been very successful, the majority of us hope we can give back."

THE JOB

The clerk of the circuit court manages all courthouse records, serves a four-year term, receives a $137,218 salary and is responsible for about 600 employees. The clerk's budget is about $12-million, with the state now handling a larger portion of court costs.

REPUBLICAN

KEN BURKE , 44, is a certified public accountant, legal administrator for DeLoach & Hofstra law firm and vice president of Seminole Title Co. He is chairman of the board at St. Petersburg College. He moved to Pinellas in 1972 and holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of South Florida and an associate's degree from St. Petersburg College. He is president of Catholic Charities Corp., a provider of housing in the Tampa Bay are a for people who are HIV positive. He is married with three children. ASSETS: home, investments, real estate, savings . LIABILITIES: mortgages . SOURCE OF INCOME: law firm salary, rental property, accounting practice.

DEMOCRAT

CAROLYN "CARRIE" WADLINGER, 59, is retired. She co-founded Wise Management Services Inc., a Cleveland company that processes Medicare and Medicaid claims, and sold her interest in the company in 2000. She has worked as CEO and CFO for Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland. She moved to Pinellas in 2000, chaired the Reno for Governor campaign in 2002 and helped with Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2004. She's a member of the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee. She holds an MBA and a bachelor's degree in accounting, both from Baldwin Wallace College in Cleveland. She is single . ASSETS: Home, real estate, cars, investments, savings, art, rugs, jewelry . LIABILITIES: Mortgage . SOURCE OF INCOME: savings.

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