By Joe Johnson
Interim Clerk of Superior and State Courts for Athens-Clarke County Elisa Zarate has announced that she will be running in the Nov. 7 special election to finish out the remainder of the term of the recently retired longtime clerk.
Following a selection process in which multiple applicants were considered, Zarate was appointed Interim Clerk by Probate Judge Susan Schaffer to fill in for Beverly Logan, who retired iin May after 30 years of service.
“I was selected for the Interim Clerk appointment because of my proven work ethic and contributions to the local judiciary and my community,” Zarate said. “I have the experience and institutional knowledge necessary to continue to lead the Clerk of Courts office in the administration of justice and to be the official record keeper for the county while adhering to the highest ethical standards deserved by all.”
Zarate has over a decade of court governance experience in the Athens-Clarke County judicial system and said she understands the complexity and relationships among the courts and its numerous justice partners "to promote clear policies and decision making that foster transparency."
Prior to her appointment, Zarate 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 Athens-Clarke County Treatment and Accountability Court.
Zerate said she believes that she had built a solid professional reputation among the judges, elected and constitutional officers, attorneys, county officials, and employees within her office.
If elected, Zarate said she would bring experience in every aspect of court management, including human resources, budgeting, data collection, and technology management, "which will enhance the day-to-day operations and workflow of the office."
Her experience includes implementation of judicial case management systems and direct involvement im several courts projects. She said her knowledge of these systems will help keep the ACC Clerk of Courts office to remain an innovative leader in this area.
Zarate has been involved with local and state efforts to collect and analyze judicial data, and said she is a proponent for data standards that facilitate data sharing and integration in a manner that reduces errors and promotes efficiency while also being a proponent of data transparency in the Clerk’s office.
Having worked with individuals with mental illness whose condition led to criminal charges, Zarate said she understands the implications that criminal records can have on a person’s ability to get a job, secure stable housing and more.
"I have learned first-hand that many of our citizens have incomplete or inaccurate entries in their criminal histories that have followed them their whole lives," she said, "I will work tirelessly in my role as clerk to ensure that our citizens’ records are accurate and help those that can have their criminal records restricted or corrected.”
Zarate has strong ties to the community and is actively engaged in performing her civic duty by serving on several boards and committees focused on bringing positive change to the greater Athens area by improving public safety as well as outcomes for justice-involved individuals.
She was recognized as a 2022 Gamechanger by the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce for her leadership and vision for Athens.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgia College and State University and a master’s degree from the University of Georgia.