EL RENO — The race for Canadian County court clerk, which has become one of the nastiest in the state during the current election cycle, is winding down as next week's primary approaches.
The race has seen one candidate sue the other, acts of vandalism, allegations of sexual misconduct and a vehicle left with $3,000 in damages.
Incumbent Marie Ramsey says her opponent can't be trusted and wants to hide his past from the public. Her challenger, Edward Kremeier, says the court clerk has broken the law and doesn't respect the privacy of the residents of the county.
Yet both candidates have similar plans if they are elected in Tuesday's GOP primary, which will decide the winner because there is no Democrat in the running.
Ramsey says she looks forward to completing the work she's done on two state subcommittees formed to help simplify the existing court records system. As it is today, court records are available on two separate websites.
“We're working on getting them all on the same system, which will make it easier for people to find what they need when they're doing research,” Ramsey said. “I get calls all the time. People ask, ‘How do I find this? Or where do I get that?' Having everything all on one website would just be much easier.”
Kremeier also would like the court records system changed, although his ideal website more closely resembles the one that makes federal records available to the public, called PACER.
The way the state records are managed provides little security to the public, Kremeier says, adding that “criminals” are free to browse documents that often contain birth dates and Social Security numbers.
“Right now, there is no tracking whatsoever,” Kremeier said. “The court has no way of checking to see who has looked at those documents.”
Kremeier said he would also like to see a fee charged to view documents, similar to PACER, in order to “help pay for the system.”
Ramsey has raised $2,619 during her re-election campaign, according to ethics commission documents. Her opponent hasn't filed any reports, which means he simply hasn't done it or he didn't exceed $500 in contributions or expenditures.
Kremeier has accused his opponent of using her position as court clerk to make private documents involving his personal life available to the public, which he believes is a violation of state law. In a lawsuit filed in Oklahoma County, the challenger claims a counselor he and his ex-wife were seeing years ago falsely reported him to the state Department of Human Services for sexual abuse of a child.
Kremeier sued the counselor in Canadian County, but his lawyer had it moved to Oklahoma County, where it is still pending.
“I am completely innocent of those accusations,” he said. “Yet my opponent is doing everything she can to get that information out to the public.”
Kremeier said Ramsey, his ex-wife and others are doing everything they can to derail his political career before it even begins. He said they set up Twitter accounts and blogs urging county residents not to vote for him and they've sent false information to the media.
The challenger also has been the victim of vandals who defaced campaign signs and his personal vehicle. He said someone covered his car with fish guts and sprayed foam insulation into his tailpipe, causing $3,000 in damage.
Ramsey says any information she obtained about her opponent was done so legally.
She said she doubts her opponent could even do the job if he were elected.
“He has no knowledge of the inner workings of this court,” Ramsey said. “I've been here for 16 years. And there's a lot more than people think that goes on here ... we're an extension of the Supreme Court.”
Ramsey also questions her opponent's desire to have some of his personal court files, including his last divorce, sealed from public view. As a politician, she says, your life is an open book.
“You're fair game in politics,” Ramsey said. “Me, I have nothing to hide. But my opponent, as everyone can see, certainly does.”