Austin Haynes Wants to Bring Customer First Mentality to Courthouse

| April 22, 2015 | 0 Comments | News
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Austin B. Haynes, Jr.

Austin B. Haynes, Jr. is running for Clerk of the Court in the Republican ‘Firehouse Primary’ this Saturday against incumbent Michelle McQuigg (R).

Some may know Haynes as Chairman At-Large for the Prince William Planning Commission. Others might know him as a real estate agent for Crossroads, Realtors in the City Manassas. Still, to others he is a friend or neighbor.

Haynes said he decided to run because he thought he could do a good job and make an impact in the position of Clerk of the Court, a managerial position that involves leading and delegating to 46 employees spread throughout three levels of the court.

He plans to be an inspirational leader who will help the courthouse become a more positive people-friendly environment for employees and citizens. And he wants to cultivate a “retail attitude” within the courthouse.

“I was a retail manager for a long time, and the customer came first,” Haynes said.

He knows dealing with the public, some of whom may be mostly unhappy about a court appearance, can be challenging, but he believes that is all the more reason a leader needs to energize and motivate his employees. And he believes that is missing in the current courthouse environment.

“I have a much simpler management style: wake up happy, go to bed happy. Work with me, not for me.”

He also plans to revitalize the Clerk’s office so that it utilizes technology, and is dedicated to implementing that technology on all levels.

“The first thing is to open communication with the office. One of the problems you have with the current office is they started putting more and more forms online, which is great. However, it needs a full technology audit,” Haynes said, noting many of those online forms do not work.

“I don’t know if they have been fixed or not,” he said, but it is a concern to him. Haynes believes technology should make the Clerk’s office more efficient, not more difficult.

And while he said McQuigg has done an “okay” job in her position, he believes it is time for a change to bring about changes that the county needs.

For instance, he notes that the Clerk of the Court’s Office has a Facebook page, but it remained dormant for several years when it could have been keeping citizens informed. There is also little electronic filing.

“The courts are moving towards that in Virginia,” he said.

Haynes said he decided to run for Clerk of the Court after deciding not to run against Jeanine Lawson for the position of Brentsville Supervisor. Then, former Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington, who is now a judge working in the county, recommended he run for Clerk of the Court.

Haynes soon realized it was perhaps a better fit for him than supervisor.

“I like working with people. I like managing people,” Haynes said.

And Haynes maintains that he is not a politician; he is a businessman who is active in his community.

Still he believes his time as Planning Commissioner in the City of Manassas and then Prince William County helped prepare him for the new role he may assume.

“I was able to continue building relationships,” he said.

He learned how to work with local government. Plus, he said it’s always good to have someone on the outside step into the Clerk’s position, since it can be isolating and after a while, the Clerk can lose touch with local government.Since the Clerk’s term is eight years long, he only plans to serve one term.

He also wants to clear up the rumor than he is running against McQuigg because he opposes her stance against gay marriage.

“That’s what everybody wants to make the election about, and that’s not what it is about. That’s not why I ran,” he said. “I believe in traditional marriage. Having said that, I don’t pretend to put my religious faith on others. That is my personal philosophy; that is not what the law of the land says.”

Haynes said if he becomes Clerk he can only abide by state law. As Clerk he can choose to marry all people entitled to marriage licenses via the court, or to marry no one at the courthouse. Regardless, the court is still responsible for issuing marriage licenses to all qualifying couples regardless of whether they are a heterosexual or homosexual couple.

Haynes said he honestly has not decided if he would marry couples in the courthouse, saying that eliminating that option would not prohibit anyone in the county from marrying elsewhere as there are many alternative options for holding secular wedding services.

Besides serving as Planning Commissioner, Haynes is very involved in local charity work.

“I was raised in foster care,” said Haynes, which makes children’s charities very important to him.

On Aug. 1 he will participate in filibuster for literacy at the Harrison Pavilion in Old Town Manassas where he will be reading books to children, which will then be donated to the Department of Social Services.

The Republican Firehouse Primary or canvass will take place Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at one voting precinct within each magisterial district. The position of Clerk of the Court is countywide.

For more information about the Haynes campaign, visit his campaign website and Facebook page.

© 2015, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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