Longtime Madison County public servant Mark von Nida, who was sworn into office as Circuit Clerk on Monday, said he was excited to begin his new role as overseer of court records.
"There are several things that are happening with technology that are coming to fruition now,” Von Nida said. He said he sees e-filing as a major step, as “complete modernization of the office."
The term of interim Circuit Clerk Judy Nelson, who was appointed to the position following the death of Circuit Clerk Matt Melucci in May, ended on Friday.
Prior to filling Melucci's vacancy, Nelson had served as chief deputy circuit clerk since 1998.
Von Nida, a Democrat who served as the county clerk since 1997, won the circuit clerk’s race last month, defeating Republican John Barberis.
In Nelson's place, Von Nida hired Dina Burch as his new chief deputy circuit clerk.
Her experience working 25 years in the circuit clerk’s office and in the private sector for a commercial automobile company qualifies her for the job, Von Nida said.
“She has working knowledge of the office," he said. "She’s coming from the private sector, where customer service is key. We want to be putting our emphasis on there. Our taxpayers and law enforcement deserve to be treated with respect, in a way that will improve relations within the courthouse.”
Von Nida said Nelson deserves “a lot of credit” for initiatives she started while in office.
“She operated as the strong arm for Matt Melucci," he said. "It’s a new administration, and we have a new way of looking at things.”
Nelson was not fired, and did she not resign, according to Von Nida.
"Her term ended Friday. Then I become the circuit clerk on the first," he said. "Judy Nelson is no longer with the circuit clerk's office."
"It's a new administration, and we have a new way of looking at things," he added.
Nelson did not return a phone call seeking comment.
In related news, Debbie Ming Mendoza was appointed Madison County Clerk by Madison County Chairman Alan J. Dunstan to fill Von Nida's unexpired term.
The Madison County Board met on Monday afternoon and unanimously confirmed the appointment.
Mendoza, 56, had served as the chief deputy assessor. She has more than 40 years of experience in county government, spent in service to Madison County, according to a county press release.
“I’m excited, very excited," she said on Monday. "I have such huge shoes to fill. I feel the transition from assessor to county clerk will be smooth.”
Mendoza says she’s not a stranger to the political process, as she will be the person responsible for making elections fair. Mendoza says she will walk into the office and “hit the ground running” Tuesday morning.
Her next project will be starting the process for the consolidated election in April.
Mendoza started her career in 1973 as a deputy in the supervisor of the assessment’s office. In 1985, she was appointed Chief Deputy in the Assessor’s office, and in 1995, she was named Chief County Assessor by the late County Board Chairman Nellie Hagnauer.
Mendoza is a graduate of Granite City High School. She lives in Granite City with her husband, Mercie.
“Debbie’s background, operational experience and leadership qualities make her uniquely qualified to build upon the outstanding initiatives implemented by Mark Von Nida and the staff in the County Clerk’s office,” Dunstan stated in a press release.