Technology, its implementation or lack thereof, is the key issue in the Broward County court clerk's race.
Both Democratic contenders in the primary election, which will be decided Aug. 14, are bent on streamlining the court's recordkeeping system by shifting totally from paper to electronic files.
Howard C. Forman, 66, a veteran area politician who has held the clerk's position since 2001, said he has already embarked upon the process of fully digitalizing his office. Robert Lockwood, 34, a lawyer who quit his assistant state attorney's job to run, said the switch to electronic is too slow and inefficient.
"When I was elected it was an office that was very old-fashioned and predominantly paper," Forman said. "We've changed over to an office that has switched to the electronic world."
Not completely, said Lockwood, who as a prosecutor filled out forms with three-page carbon copies.
"It's all paper. Too much paper," he said. "You could literally dedicate your life to filing the papers that come in and you'd never catch up."
Forman, of Fort Lauderdale, was born in Pittsburgh and moved to Florida at age 9. Before being elected clerk in November 2000, he served on the Hallandale Beach City Commission, Broward County Commission and in the state Senate.
Forman cites several reforms in the clerk's office under his watch. He has installed a new computer system, and has initiated electronic case filing in three divisions, probate, family and circuit civil, before taking such filing systemwide.
A clerk's website allows people to access information and pay fines online. Jury service is automated, and a special scheduling program allows law enforcement officers to avoid long waits. Forman said he has established branch offices throughout the county, even in a Davie car lot.
"In the next few years we'll be mostly paperless, that's been my goal since I've first been elected," he said.
Lockwood, also of Fort Lauderdale, was born in Miami and moved to Key West as a toddler. After earning a business degree from the University of Florida in 2000, he returned to the Keys to run the family businesses: a dive shop and visitors centers. He earned his law degree in 2009 and worked in the Broward State Attorney's Office in the misdemeanor, juvenile and felony divisions, before resigning to seek office.
Lockwood cites his business acumen, technological savvy, people skills and knowledge of the court system as qualifying him for the clerk position.
"I've been in the system, I know what's going to work for the clerk's office," he said. "I'm a huge tech guy and I also love people."
A write-in candidate, Beverly Kennedy, is running in the general election, but her name won't be on the ballot, so the race will effectively be decided in the primary election.
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Education: Bachelor's degree, business administration, University of Florida, 2000; juris doctor, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Lansing, Mich., 2009
Political career: None
Key endorsements: None listed
Howard C. Forman
Family: Married, two children, two stepchildren, four grandchildren
Education:: Attended University of Miami; New York Institute of Finance, stockbroker's license, 1970
Occupation: Broward County clerk of courts
Political career: Hallandale Beach City Commission, Broward County Commission, Florida Senate