When Nassau County Clerk Maureen O'Connell first took over the office in 2005, she cleared up one of the state's worst backlogs of deed filings. Shortly after, Nassau became one of six New York pilot counties to beta-test a system for electronic filing of court documents. Despite that promising start, Nassau has now been bypassed by other counties offering virtual filing and subscription searches. The clerk's office is the repository for Nassau's legal documents and public records, and many residents would benefit from having these available online.
O'Connell, 62, a Republican from East Williston, seems so bogged down over selecting software that she now has hired a consultant. But none of her top deputies specializes in information technology, and after so much delay, it appears she can't really execute this urgent task.
Not only should the clerk's office move into the information age, O'Connell's delay means lost revenue. The Nassau County executive projected $2 million in revenue from subscribers to the nonexistent database. That figure might be overblown, but there is still revenue being lost.Challenger Laura Gillen, 44, a Democrat from Rockville Centre and a commercial lawyer, is knowledgeable about abstract and title company needs for electronic access. Gillen said she would make the operation of the office more transparent and accountable than O'Connell has done. She wants to boost staff training.
By now, O'Connell has had enough time to move the office into the 21st century. Gillen would bring energy to an office that needs modernizing. Newsday has endorsed O'Connell in her previous two races for this office, but this time we believe it's time to give a candidate with new ideas a chance.
Newsday endorses Gillen.