Voices of County Government - Hon. Loretta Cammack

 

 
How long have you been the District Clerk for Nacogdoches County?

For nine years, initially appointed by the two district judges to fill an unexpired term. Because the appointment was in June, I then successfully ran for the position in the fall of that same year and have held the office ever since. I am currently seeking re-election. 


Prior to your election, what kind of work did you do? What got you interested in running for office?

I was a legal assistant for 21 years and a mortgage loan officer for five years. Having worked on a daily basis with local judiciary and clerks, it was a dream of mine to pursue my interest in the law — particularly in the district clerk’s office since I had experience being on the “other side of the counter.” Coming from outside of county government, I had a different perspective, and felt I had contributions to the development of higher levels of customer service and innovation to long-time practices and procedures. 


What was the biggest surprise or adjustment after Taking Office? 

County government is NOTHING like the private sector! Issues such as the budget process, open records and transparency of daily activities add challenges to the position. As a department head, it is necessary to develop leadership skills to motivate and reward employees without monetary bonuses or promotions that are often used in the outside business world.


What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced, and what advice would you give your peers across the state that may face the same or similar challenges?

There are many “sacred cows” in county government — because it has always been done that way. I encountered many of these and learned by trial and error how to make changes carefully — slowly, but deliberately — and be prepared for resistance from seasoned county employees. However, it is very rewarding when your changes actually are accepted and prove to be successful. Also, a lack of funding for the projects to improve your office and the services you offer to the public is a continuous challenge. I have learned that you must prioritize your goals, be determined and vocal in the community and with your other local elected officials, and be persistent. Mutual respect among elected county officials and department heads is a must for the success of the county and the public we serve.


Since taking office, what accomplishments are you most proud of?

Advances in preserving the history of my great county! All pleadings from 1836 through 1920 have now been digitized, organized by a full-time employee whose salary is funded from record management funds collected by the district clerk’s office. In addition, through a collaboration with the East Texas Research Center located at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, they have provided acid free folders and storage boxes for the project and will house the records in a safe, climate controlled environment that was unaffordable by the county. In exchange, we are furnishing the database at their facility for public research. I also believe that the Nacogdoches County District Clerk’s Office has become an efficient, respected and integral part of the judicial system in our community, providing first class service.


What do you find are the most successful methods for reaching out to the residents of your county to communicate what your office is doing and why it’s doing it?

We utilize every opportunity to educate the public on exactly what role our office has in the county government by involvement in civic activities, speaking for service organizations, and through press releases, social media posts and community volunteer participation. On a personal level, each customer who has contact with our office is treated with respect and dignity.


How do you describe your job to people who may not be familiar with the day-to-day of what you do, the responsibilities of your office or with the way county government functions? Are there any common misconceptions you hear?

The most common misconception regarding district clerks is that we are the file clerk or secretary for the district judges. Actual maintenance of “files” is the least of our responsibilities. My employees and I not only have to maintain records but also must be familiar with a vast array of legal procedures for many types of cases, have a working knowledge of the law, and have the ability to research the law and assist the courts, attorneys, legal assistants and pro se customers as well.


What is your favorite thing about Nacogdoches County?

Nacogdoches is the oldest town in Texas and I believe one of the friendliest in the nation. I am proud to say I am a “BIN,” which means I am one of those who was Born In Nacogdoches and blessed to have lived here my entire life.


When you’re not at work, what are you doing? Do you have any hobbies or something interesting you do that may surprise your colleagues?

 I love repurposing projects, particularly transforming industrial items into specialty home lighting and furnishings. Cooking and experimenting with new recipes is my passion as well. But it may surprise my colleagues that my age has not diminished my adrenaline addiction:   from scuba diving to zip lining, hot air balloons to roller coasters! My current bucket list items include kayaking down the Angelina River, white water rafting and parachuting  (with a tandem partner and duct tape for my mouth, a given). 

 

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