Harrison County District Clerk Sherry Griffis announced this week her intent to run for re-election in the 2022 Republican Party primary.
“I think the most fulfilling thing is knowing I can help the public, and that I can make a difference sometimes to situations that happen that the public comes in with, and try to help them as much as I possibly can,” she said of her role.
Griffis is seeking her seventh term in office.
“I actually started working for the county in May 1992 under Ms. Betty Cawood, who was the district clerk, and then I was the clerk from 1992 until 2009, and then I lost re-election, and I worked as a crimes victim coordinator for the county in the DA’s office from 2010 to 2014. I then sought re-election to come back as the clerk in March 2014, and then I was appointed the clerk on Dec. 18, 2014, and started my new term in Jan. 2015, and I’ve been here now since 2015 to 2021.”
Griffis said she’s running for re-election to continue to serve the office and make sure the office stays in compliance with the ever-changing laws implemented by lawmakers.
“There’s a lot of unfinished things and there’s some new things that are happening with one of our Senate bills this year in the (State) Legislature, Senate Bill 41,” she said.
According to the bill analysis, SB 41 takes effect Jan. 1, 2022, and consolidates civil court costs and filing fees to establish a streamlined process and standardize these costs statewide. The new system would be simpler for local officials to administer, the state to audit and litigants to navigate.
“We had lots of issues when the other Senate Bill went through two years ago with the criminal fee changes; so now we’re having civil fee changes in this term of the Legislature and those are all due Jan. 1,” said Griffis. “So, I just feel like there’s kind of some little ravels out there that are still raveling and I just kind of want to tie those off; and I think I can do that and be a service of doing that.
“I just feel like those little ravels, I don’t want to leave without them being completed,” she said. “Like I said, we went through the Senate Bill to change all of the criminal codes and criminal fees. That was a challenge.”
She believes the transition was easier, however, due to her longtime experience as the elected official.
“Some of that was easier because I’ve had the experience,” said Griffis. “So I would hate to know that a new clerk would have gone through those experiences because it was difficult and it was a little bit challenging trying to make those changes too. So, I feel so blessed that I got to be here and already had experience of how it used to be compared to what it needed to be.”
Most of all, Griffis enjoys working for the county.
“I love my job,” said Griffis. “There’s not any other job that I can think of that I would really, really love to do. And it’s been the most rewarding to me and my family through the years.”
Griffis said although the office handles many upsetting matters, the ability to be able to assist individuals during their time of need is rewarding.
“It’s just a rewarding job,” she shared. “You know, we do a lot of sad things here because we do divorces, we do tax suits, and people’s land gets sold. We do lots of things and we sue people for all sorts of things, but our rewarding things outweigh that.”
“Even though that’s majority of what we do, we also do adoptions and those are fun and those are so sweet, and we have a lot of reward out of doing adoptions and working with the CPS cases and things like that; so it is rewarding,” Griffis said. “It’s been a good journey.”
The district clerk is humbled by the opportunity to be able to serve her home county.
“I’m just really partial to Harrison County. This is where I lived all my life,” said Griffis.
Griffis has been proud of the way the office has been able to successfully stay on top of all changes mandated by lawmakers. The implementation of e-filing, which was mandated by the Texas Supreme Court, was one big change that took effect for Harrison County in July 2015, during her tenure
“E-filing has been a big step for attorneys and for pro-se people. Pro-se people are people who actually come in and file for themselves; and we do have a lot of pro-se (litigants). There’s a lot of people who can’t afford attorneys and they have to do it themselves, so therefore, we try to help them to get the right paperwork,” said Griffis.
“We can’t give them legal advice, but we can help them and direct them into a direction where they can find legal advice through some of the websites that we know offer free legal services. E-filing has been a big step for everybody all over the state of Texas.”
Another major project Griffis is proud to have been able to accomplish during her tenure is the renovation of the district clerk’s office. The makeover offers a more updated, spacious environment.
“This past year, we were able to renovate the office and we redesigned it and kind of broke up some of the rooms,” she shared. “It’s turned out to be a good work environment and everybody loves it.”
Griffis is also pleased with how the office was able to maneuver through the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and reopening.
“Living through COVID was a chore and it was absolutely challenging, but we did it, and we handled it,” the district clerk said. “It was not always easy, and I know it wasn’t easy for the public, sometimes, because we would have to be closed down due to COVID, but we did the best we could during the time and we followed the Supreme Court orders that came down with the COVID recommendations. So that’s what we did.”
“Jury has been difficult with COVID this year the past two years,” she added, “but we’ve started back with our juries this year, and we’ve had to climb a few little hurdles with COVID, but we have gotten through those. I think we’ve done a good job trying to get through that and to make everybody comfortable and feel good about coming to jury service. Jury service has picked back up and we are trying to clean up dockets and get things going. It’s really worked out really well.”
Additionally, Griffis said she’s been happy to be able to represent Harrison County in her capacity as district clerk by serving on state boards such the Texas District Court Alliance.
“I am the treasurer,” she said. “We put on a conference every year for all the district clerks in the state of Texas, and I feel very privileged and honor that I get to be on that board.”
In addition to being active in associations, Griffis said she also makes it a point to stay current with her continuing legal education (CLE) hours.
“We have to get 20 hours a year. So I try to stay educated and I try to make sure that during the legislative year I have an understanding of the new laws, the new statutes and all of that so that I can bring those back here to make sure Harrison County is doing what it needs to do,” said Griffis. “That’s a big plus, trying to get all of that done.”
Griffis commended her staff for all working as a team to ensure the efficiency of the office.
“I couldn’t do near what I do today without the staff that I have today,” said Griffis. “My staff is super; they’re wonderful; they’re all knowledgeable. They try to learn new things, and a good staff is what makes an office. And I’m not any good at all unless they’re good. And if they’re not good then I’m not good. It takes a team and we work as a team and we all get it all done and it works out very well.”
Griffis is a Marshall native and 1977 Marshall High School graduate. She and her husband Mike Griffis live on Caddo Lake where Mike, operator of Ole Jigger Caddo Lake Adventures, loves giving lake tours.
The couple’s son Casey is a field surveyor for MTX and daughter-in-law Ashley is a sonogram tech at Marshall’s hospital. Griffis also has three granddaughters, who are her pride and joy.
Offices up for Re-Election
In addition to the office of district clerk, other countywide positions up for grabs for the 2022 Primaries include: district attorney, county clerk, county judge, county court-at-law judge, county treasurer, Pct. 2 county commissioner, Pct. 4 county commissioner, Pct.1 justice of the peace, Pct. 2 justice of the peace and Pct. 3 justice of the peace.
Candidates reportedly have to file for office by Dec. 13. The filing period opens Nov. 13.