By Maury Thompson, Special to The Chronicle
The two candidates for Warren County Clerk differ on whether to restore unlimited walk-in service at the county Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Without taking walk-ins, we’re not serving our constituents,” said Republican Emily McCabe McCarthy, of Queensbury, who has said she would restore open walk-in service while continuing to allow people to make appointments.
“From what I have learned, appointments are working,” said Democrat Carrie Black, of Warrensburg, who also is running on the independent Warren County Committed line.
Currently, walk-in service is only offered from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. At other times, patrons are required to make an appointment online.
The issue has been controversial. Some say appointments make the system more efficient and eliminate long waiting lines. Others say it makes it
inconvenient for patrons and is cumbersome for those not accustomed to using the Internet.
Miss Black said she has spoken with DMV staff, and generally they have been able to accommodate patrons who stop in without an appointment.
“I’m going to keep my ear to the ground and see what the people want,” she said, in a recent interview. She said it might be feasible to tweak the system to keep a few appointments open for those who have an urgent need for service.
Mrs. McCarthy said there would still be the perception that the DMV is not welcoming to constituents.
The candidates also differ on the best way to expand DMV services.
Mrs. McCarthy said she wants to explore opening a DMV satellite office in the northern portion of the county.
“It’s something I can’t 100% promise,” she said in a recent interview.
Asked if she has a specific town in mind for a satellite office, Mrs. McCarthy said, “I was thinking of Warrensburg as a possibility, because it is nestled between those towns in the north.”
Miss Black said establishing a system of mobile office hours in various towns might be more practical that establishing a satellite office.
Mrs. McCarthy said mobile office hours might be a feasible alternative. County chairs’ view; duties of job Current clerk Pam Vogel is retiring.
The rare race for an open seat is attracting wide interest. The salary for the county clerk position for 2023 is $93,419.
“The clerk’s race is clearly one of the biggest races in the county,” said Warren County Democratic Chairwoman Lynne Boecher.
“The county clerk touches everything in this county,” said Warren County Republican Chairman Tim McNulty.
Both chairs touted the personalities of their respective candidates.
“She’s got the right temperament for the office,” Mr. McNulty said of Mrs. McCarthy.
“She has a very unassuming personality, but is direct,” Mrs. Boecher said of Miss Black.
Both candidates are mothers of two young children and each said she sees being a mom as an asset for the job.
Duties of the Clerk’s office include DMV registrations and licensing, managing court records, filing real estate transfers and business trade names, and processing pistol permit licenses, among others.
Candidates’ professional background
Miss Black, 38, is currently director of Auxiliary Services at SUNY Adirondack, heading the entity that operates the residence hall, dining, vending, book store and child care center. She previously was its director of finance and continues that role in tandem with her director duties.
Before that she was controller for Champlain Stone.
Miss Black received a Master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in finance.
She said being a “certified paralegal” provides unique expertise for the job.
Mrs. McCarthy, 39, received one Master’s degree in school counseling and another in law and public policy. She received a Bachelor’s degree in policy analysis and management.
Most recently she was a school guidance counselor in 2017-2021.
She previously worked for the state Office of Victim Services, training volunteer victim advocates.
Mrs. McCarthy was Warren County deputy elections commissioner from December 2010 to January 2013 and has held various appointed political positions, including correspondence coordinator for the Assembly Republican Conference.
She worked on several local Republican congressional campaigns.
Mrs. McCarthy said her understanding of state legislation provides unique experience for the job.
Mrs. Vogel was elected as a Republican but has endorsed the Democrat Miss Black, as has CSEA, the union representing employees of the County Clerk’s office.
Mrs. McCarthy said 62 current and former elected officials in Warren County — led by State Senator Dan Stec and Assemblyman Matt Simpson — have endorsed her candidacy. Also, former Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Mary Beth Casey where Mrs. McCarthy served as Deputy Commissioner.
Mrs. McCarhty said that she soon will announce endorsements from several area gun shop owners — and that she, personally, is in the process of obtaining a pistol permit, which she said gives her perspective on the permit process.
Miss Black said, if elected, she will collaborate with the Sheriff’s Department and court system to explore ways to make the pistol permit process more efficient.
Mrs. McCarthy said she would establish a County Clerk’s office Facebook page to update the public on legislation that affects services the Clerk’s office provides.
In Warren County, the County Clerk’s position has typically been a career job. Mrs. Vogel is completing her 20th year in office, and Warren County Clerk Caryl Clark, before her, served for 16 years.
In other New York counties, the County Clerk’s office has been a political stepping stone. Gov. Kathy Hochul was previously a county clerk, and a number of state senators previously were county clerks.
Miss Black said she will not seek any other political office besides County Clerk.
“That is a resounding ‘no.’ … I am running for this office because it is perfect for my background,” she said. “I want to be a long-standing clerk.”
Mrs. McCarthy would not rule out running for higher office at some point.
“Right now, I just want to focus on what I am running for,” she said. “I’ll never say never, but it’s important for me now to be involved in my children’s schooling.”
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