Candidate Survey: Wanda Halbert, Candidate for County Clerk

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Wanda Halbert

Candidate: Wanda Halbert
Candidate for: County Clerk
Birthplace: Memphis
Marital Status: 
Children: 2
Educational Background: 
High School: Kirby High School
College: State Tech, Bethel College, University of Memphis
Party Affiliation:Democrat
Campaign Website: www.wandahalbert.com
Campaign Phone: 901-690-7533
Current Occupation: Business Owner, Highland Heights Maintenance & Cleaning

Brief Background:

The second African American woman in the history of the City of Memphis to be elected to a city-wide office, Halbert was elected to the Memphis City Council 2007 through 2015 after serving as a legislator on the Memphis Board of Education 2000 through 2007. As Councilwoman, Halbert served as Economic Development Chair, Budget Chair, Education Liaison among many other leadership positions. As Commissioner, among many leadership and committee assignments, Halbert served as Memphis City Schools’ Board President and President of the Memphis Chapter of Parents for Public Schools (a chartered national organization).

A graduate of Kirby High School, having attended State Technical Institute at Memphis, Bethel College, and the University of Memphis where she studied organizational management, President and CEO of a thriving commercial and residential maintenance and cleaning company, Halbert was employed as an administrator over 33 years in the Information Technology Division at FedEx Services, a local non-profit and real estate agency.

Memphis Magazine featured Halbert as one of Memphis’ 100 Who’s Who representing our city’s best and brightest leaders.

Halbert has two adult sons, Andre’ a local entrepreneur and Stephon an Assistant Attorney General in Washington, DC, both of whom are graduates of public schools and attended prestigious universities and/or Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU). To add to her growing family, Halbert beams at the joy of having a beautiful granddaughter Savannah.

Community Involvement:

• Created the city’s first Minority & Women Owned Business Oversight Commission, an appointed group requiring and monitoring the Memphis’ spending with minority and women owned businesses;
• Revived the city’s Pre-65 health insurance for employees;
• Initiated the city’s joint compromised pension investments;
• Sponsored approved legislation reviving the city’s Summer Youth program with a $2 million-dollar investment;
• Sponsored approved legislation strengthening the city’s Civilian Law Enforcement Review processes and procedures;
• Sponsored approved legislation adding $4 million to revive the city’s Utility Payment Assistance Program;
• Sponsored approved legislation adding $2.4 million for a school literacy initiative;
• Sponsored approved legislation to spend $500,000 to repair city parks;
• Sponsored new legislation securing $1.6 million for new park and neighborhood redevelopment;
• Initiated the city’s review and remediation of outdated drainage systems causing city-wide flooding

1. In your opinion, what are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent? What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

The Shelby County Clerk serves as the administrator of office services. As previously mentioned in public forums, there are 2 areas of advocacy I would immediately address:

a) While there are 7 county clerk branch offices, after speaking to citizens throughout the county, all locations are not conveniently accessible. Therefore, I would work with city and county administrations to set up kiosk services at library locations to ensure more citizens can receive adequate services.
b) Recognizing the burdens of suspended driver’s licenses as a result of income challenges, I would like to meet with the Southern Poverty Law Center regarding its initiative in other states to remedy poverty becoming a barrier to holding a valid license. Hopefully Shelby County government and the State of TN would agree that striping one’s license as a result of poverty does not help our citizens or state and becomes an economic factor for families, communities and our county.

2. What are the biggest issues and needs facing the youth of your district? What will you do to address those needs?

Specifically, in the County Clerk’s office, I believe it would be most helpful to establish school and community center tours to talk to youth about driving rights and privileges as well as business development, processes/procedures and licensing. Giving them exposure will hopefully influence some to think they can someday become local entrepreneurs which of course would be an economic contribution to families and Shelby County.

3. From your perspective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking? What expertise will you bring to the position and what in your background/experience has prepared you for this elected position?

The County Clerk is the managing administrator of office services which includes multiple licenses, auto tags, notary commissions, collection of business taxes, and swearing in deputy sheriffs.

For more than 33 years, I’ve served as an administrator in a local real estate agency, non-profit organization and after 25 years of service at FedEx, administrator in multiple IT division offices. Currently I’m President and CEO of a thriving maintenance and cleaning company.

Additionally, over the last 20 years, I’ve served as an elected member of 2 legislative branches of government, President of local and national organizations as well as a special needs, juvenile and criminal justice advocate at the local and state level.

These years of service and expertise have well prepared me to serve as Shelby County Clerk.

4. Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of (federal/state/municipal) government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

The average citizen is not always well-informed of the workings of government. I plan to improve communication with the constituency by publishing quarterly reports and information on the office website, speaking throughout the county to citizens, groups and agencies, as well as working with local media outlets as a means of keeping citizens informed.

5. Do you support granting economic incentives particularly use of PILOTS to prospective companies looking to locate or expand in Shelby County, and why? What if any alternative measures would you propose to attract new investment to Shelby County?

The issuance of economic incentives i.e. PILOTS is not a function of the Shelby County Clerk’s office however, I will always provide support and assistance to the executive and legislative offices when needed.

6. How do you plan on sustaining and improving our public transportation system?

Sustaining and improving public transportation is not a function of the Shelby County Clerk’s office however, I will always provide support and assistance to the executive and legislative offices when needed.

7. What measure(s) would you propose to aid school funding? Do you favor a sales tax increase? Why or Why not?

Aiding school funding and increases in sales tax is not a function of the Shelby County Clerk’s office however, I will always provide support and assistance to the executive and legislative offices when needed.

8. How do you propose we improve public education in Shelby County with the ongoing fragmentation of schools and increased school funding pressures?

Improving public education and increased school funding is not a function of the Shelby County Clerk’s office however, I will always provide support and assistance to the executive and legislative offices when needed.

9. Would you support initiatives to address disparities in regard to environmental justice issues? (Like the disproportionate amount of industrial areas and waste treatment in minority communities) If so, what would they be?

Environmental justice issues are not a function of the Shelby County Clerk’s office, however I will always provide support and assistance to the executive and legislative offices when needed.

10. What do you think we can do to prevent and reduce crime in our communities?

Preventing and reducing crime in our communities is not a function of the Shelby County Clerk’s office however, I will always provide support and assistance to the executive and legislative offices when needed.

11. What do you consider your highest priority? When it comes to their job function, duties and responsibilities?

I consider my highest priority to be to effectively and efficiently provide administrative oversight of the Shelby County Clerk’s office, to support the office personnel and provide them with necessary skills, additional training and support services to successfully serve all citizens of Shelby County.

12. What are your ideas to increase revenue or lower costs of government within Shelby County?

I consider my highest priority to be to effectively and efficiently provide administrative oversight of the Shelby County Clerk’s office, to support the office personnel and provide them with necessary skills, additional training and support services to successfully serve all citizens of Shelby County.

13. Have you ever been convicted or found liable of non-payment of taxes, perjury, bribery, non-payment of child support, non-payment of court-ordered alimony, or any other instance of financially-related incidents that may be considered fraud or public corruption? Circumstances if yes?

No}

14. Identify three of the most critical long-term needs for Shelby-County and explain why they are necessary.

As an administrative office of county government, critical long-term needs are not identified in the Shelby County Clerk’s office, however, I will commit to working with both the executive and legislative branches of county government to assist wherever needed to ensure all needs are supported and/or met.

15. What other priorities would you focus on if elected? Why are those important and how would you go about accomplishing them?

I have previously outlined what I consider priorities for the Shelby County Clerk’s office in this candidate questionnaire.