By Joe Johnson
There will be competition this year between two candidates who want to become the next clerk of State and Superior courts for Athens Clarke County.
In a Nov. 7 special election, Andrew Griffeth, who has over a decade’s worth of experience in the clerk’s office and currently is its senior deputy clerk, will be facing off against Elisa Zarate, who had no experience in the clerk’s office when a Probate Court judge appointed her as the interim office head following the May retirement of longtime clerk of courts Beverly Logan.
However, Zarate was no stranger to the courts and its personnel, as she had served for over three years as the Court Administrator for the six courts comprising the Athens-Clarke County court system and for seven years as program coordinator for the Treatment and Accountability Court.
As senior deputy clerk, Griffeth oversees the jury process for State and Superior and courts.
He said that he is an expert in digitizing and maintaining records for courts, including civil, criminal, and land records. Griffeth has served as a clerk with the Family Violence Unit, was a representative on the Athens Board of Equalization vs Georgia, and was deputy clerk before becoming senior deputy in 2014.
During his tenure Griffeth has served in multiple divisions and roles and he believes that his experience “working on the frontline” has equipped him to successfully lead the clerk’s office.
As the county’s head clerk, he vowed to prioritize customer service and, if elected, his top priority will be “continuing to serve the people of Athens-Clarke County with excellence while maintaining the public’s trust through transparency.”
Griffeth said he will also promote collaboration because while the position of Clerk of Courts may not be well-known, it plays a vital role in the justice system.
“The clerk performs integral administrative duties that judges, attorneys, and citizens rely on,” he said, explaining that he would build upon the relationships he has made throughout his tenure to ensure the clerk’s office has a reputation of being supportive and collaborative.
“New ideas will always be welcome,” he said.
Griffeth said that he would continue to explore and implement new technology “to make interactions with the clerk of courts office as convenient as possible for all.”
The candidate is a third generation Athenian and he has been married to Lindsay Griffeth for 13 years. They have two children, 6-year-old Sawyer and 3-year-old Sutton.
Griffeth graduated with a degree in business administration from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and he volunteers with Athens Access to Justice and various other community service initiatives. He is a graduate of the Athens-Clarke County Community Police Academy.
The Griffeths are members of First Presbyterian Church of Athens.