Forum For Juvenile, Criminal Court Clerk Held

Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-19 00:00:51-04

On Sunday, people met inside Lee Chapel AME Church in Nashville for a political forum.

For nearly two hours, candidates vying for the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk and Juvenile Court Clerk positions answered questions from the moderator and attendees.

Criminal Court Clerk incumbent Howard Gentry Jr. faced Steven Murff.

Both said they want to move the office forward technologically and electronically to better inform the community.

"We have people come into our office who just don’t know. They don’t know what to do when they walk in. They definitely don’t know what to do after they leave," Gentry said.

Gentry has held the position since 2011 and emphasized future plans such as possible texting programs and kiosk resources to inform the community more efficiently.

"Even though our office is responsible for keeping the records we are also responsible for disseminating the records because once the judge makes his disposition or her disposition, our responsibility is to make sure that the people comply," he said.

Steven Murff has worked nearly 25 years in local and federal judicial systems, including Washington D.C.

He is also the former Director of Nashville Davidson County Specialty Courts.

"We have to start meeting the needs of the defendant as soon as they come in because what happens is we are clogging up our docketing system overseen by the criminal clerks court office," Murff said.

Murff too touched on ways to relay information efficiently to the community.

"I know that my opponent has mentioned the advances that are coming. Unfortunately, he’s now been in office six years, and we have been waiting on those advances," he said.

Juvenile Court Clerk candidates Jeff Crum, Michael Joyner, Lonnell Matthews Jr., Rep. Sherry Jones, and Metro School Board member Tyese Hunter are looking to replace retiring clerk David Smith.

Hunter dropped out of the race for Juvenile Court clerk to continue to serve on the Metro School Board.

Crum and Jones did not attend for unknown reasons.

Joyner, a local pastor and member of Metro Police's volunteer chaplain program, and Matthews Jr., a former councilman, addressed a question from the audience about how to reduce teen violence.

"Put more focus and attention on how we can get guns out of the hands that shouldn't have them in the first place. I believe in the Second Amendment rights. I don't believe there is such a thing as an illegal weapon. I believe there's such things as an illegal possession," he said.

Joyner said he agreed with his opponent to do more than just keep records organized.

"I have organized the program that has taken 658 guns off the street already. We're going to continue to try to get guns off the street to the best of our ability. The only other thing that we can do is just got to be more proactive," he said.

After the forum,  a meet-and-greet was held. It was also a time to inform voters about the upcoming election deadlines.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, Tennessee ranked 40th in the nation in voter registration, but 50th in voter turnout.