Five Republicans are vying to replace Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell in the June 5 Republican primary to thin the crowd, with a runoff likely on July 17. No Democrats qualified to run for the job.
Three of the candidates are attorneys by trade, one is a corporal in the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and one is a private investigator. All are Baldwin County natives and most are also lifelong residents, some leaving the county for service in the military or for other jobs.
Attorneys running are Harry D’Olive, Alan Lipscomb and Lynn Perry. Max Hansen runs his own private investigations firm and Matt McKenzie oversees nine counties in the southern part of Alabama as an ALEA supervisor. All five said they believe enhancing service in the probate office as the county’s population grows will be important in coming years.
“The probate office is the largest customer service center in Baldwin County, and we will look at ways to increase efficiency and improve the experience that people have when dealing with probate,” Hansen said.
Lipscomb said improving how records are kept and filed will help streamline the office.
“We need to implement electronic filing and recording,” Lipscomb said. “This should make the office more ‘user-friendly’ and save the taxpayer’s money.”
D’Olive says the volume of cases handled by the court warrants technological upgrades.
“Last year, the Probate Court handled approximately 1,500 court cases and that number will also continue to increase,” D’Olive said.
The probate office is also one of the biggest revenue generators for the county, contributing more than $40 million in 2017 alone and handling the more than 400,000 cars licensed in Baldwin County.
McKenzie said to face this volume of activity, he would work on ways to make doing business with the probate office easier.
“I would like to work to implement an online scheduling system, add kiosks in municipalities and add additional offices throughout the county,” McKenzie said.
Perry received his business degree from Mississippi State University and his law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. He is actively involved in the Baldwin County Bar Association and the Alabama State Bar Association, where he also serves as a Bar Commissioner for the district.
Perry, a partner at Daniell, Upton and Perry PC in Daphne, said he believes his 29 years in law practice, providing counsel to clients in such areas as contracts, wills and trusts as well as real property matters, give him the needed experience for the position.
Current Probate Judge Tim Russell is ineligible to run again because of a state law requiring that candidates be under the age of 70 on election day to seek a judgeship in Alabama. Russell was appointed to the office in 2010 by Gov. Bob Riley to finish the term of retiring Adrian Johns, who had served the prior 15 years.
The position pays about $120,000 per year and is for a six-year term.