EXCLUSIVE: Circuit clerk attributes issues to ‘miscommunication’

Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 11:34 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - In an exclusive interview, Craighead County Circuit Clerk Candace Edwards addressed accusations against her after weeks of drama that has her office under fire.

The Craighead County Quorum Court recently approved an amendment slashing more than $100,000 from the circuit clerk’s budget.

It came on the heels of Eastern Deputy Clerk Sue Gurley’s termination.

Questions were raised by quorum court members about Edwards’ professionalism following Gurley’s reinstatement.

Edwards feels it all stems from miscommunication.

Specifically, in regards to Sue Gurley not having access to the 3 software programs needed to handle day-to-day operations.

Edwards said she knew Gurley had issues getting on one specific software based on e-mails, but she thought it was taken care of by providing her with some workarounds.

“There was nothing malice about this,” Edwards said. “I was not aware that that perception was out there...that they thought she was being penalized possibility and that I was withholding her from being able to have those services.”

As of March 10, Edwards said Gurley should have access to all the programs she needs to do her job.

She also spoke about accusations of financial misgivings stemming from the 20-18 legislative audit that requested a review from then-Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington.

“We thought we had researched the problem,” Edwards said. “We thought we had taken care of it. And unfortunately, until I had a deputy leave the office and we cleaned their desk out, we did not know the full extent of the issue.”

Edwards said they uncovered a box full of bills that were never paid and already incurred fines and late fees.

“We have worked so hard with the auditor to clean this up,” Edwards said.

In a letter from the prosecuting attorney, it was determined there was not sufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal complaint, but state there was reason to improve the accounting standards in the circuit clerk’s office.

“Every suggestion that he had given had already been implemented in the office,” Edwards said. “even though I don’t feel like it was all my fault, the buck stops with me and so I chose not to take the pay raise out of respect to the people of the county and with the pay raise and Social Security cut and the matching retirement the $2,750 that it would have been far outweighed what we paid in fines.”

Edwards plans to be at the next quorum court meeting.

In the meantime, she says she’s leaning on her faith in God and believes something good will come out of this.

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