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Smith and Miller vie in Special Election Tuesday, April 18, for Clerk of Prince William Court

The two candidates to complete the eight-year term of the late Michele McQuigg as Clerk of the Prince William Circuit Court (includes Manassas and Manassas Park) agree on many of the changes and improvements they would like to see in the Clerk’s office. What they strongly disagree on is which of them is more qualified to make those changes happen.

Attorney Jacqueline (Jackie) Smith, Democrat and an attorney based in Dumfries, and Del. Jackson Miller, Republican majority whip in the Virginia House of Delegates, squared off on April 4 in a debate held at the Dar Al-Noor Islamic Community Center in Manassas.

Smith earned her Juris Doctor from the University of the District of Columbia and her B.A from George Mason. She is a member of the State Bars of D.C. and Virginia. Her legal practice focuses on personal injury cases.

Smith said that she has logged “thousands of pro bono hours providing free legal assistance to the residents of D.C. and Virginia.”

In response to a question on her qualifications for the office, Smith said that, during a trip to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, she spent “hundreds of hours helping people prove they owned land that had been in their family for generations. It opened my eyes to how important this job is. The same problems exist in Prince William County.”

Miller has served as a Captain in the United Stated Army and a Prince William County Police officer. And was a member of the Manassas City Council. He currently is the Majority Whip in the Virginia House of Delegates where he is a member of the Courts of Justice and Privileges and Elections Committees.

He is a partner in a local real estate firm. He has been recognized as a Champion of Justice by the Virginia Association of Commonwealth Attorneys, Delegate of the Year by Fraternal Order of Police and Legislator of the Year by the Virginia State Police Association. He serves as chairman of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. Miller told an audience of several hundred at the debate that he will “bring the same leadership skills to the Clerk’s office.

“People who work with me have chosen me for leadership,” he said.

Smith shared that she had “led a team of 15 other attorneys to New Orleans. I understand leadership isn’t about the leader, it’s about the team.”

In Virginia, the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court is responsible for duties that range from granting a marriage license to disposition of a felony conviction to issuing a duplicate driver’s license. The Clerk is elected to a term of eight years.

The debate, at times, grew heated as Miller accused Smith of bringing politics into the race in direct contradiction to a slogan of her campaign, “let’s get politics out of the clerk’s office. It’s time to put the people first.”

“She plays politics as well as any other politician I’ve campaigned against,” Miller said, describing how Smith had used a bar association database to share news of her candidacy.

Smith questioned whether Miller would be beholden to corporate donors who had contributed to his campaigns.

“It’s a mistake to have a career politician in this job,” she said, noting that her opponent had been the recipient of corporate donations from entities that “will expect to be paid back.”

Both candidates said that, along with improving efficiency, improving access to the office will be a priority. Telephone calls often go unanswered, they agreed, a situation that each promised to resolve if they are elected.

The special election will be held on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. For more information on the campaigns, visit Smith’s website at http://www.smithforclerk.com and Miller’s at http://www.millerforclerk.com

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