Bartos cites legal experience, familiarity with office
Meg Bartos, who has worked in the legal profession in several capacities over the last 20 years, said she would provide quality service as the Northumberland County prothonotary and clerk of courts from Day 1.
"I wouldn't be learning on the job," remarked Bartos, Democratic candidate for the position in the Nov. 5 election. "I have the necessary training to do the job."
At one time or other, she said, the positions she has held in law offices have given her direct contact, often in person, with many protonotary/clerk of courts offices throughout the state. She understands, she added, how the office works in cooperation with other court-related offices.
Bartos said her background with working with the Pennsylvania court system at many levels is in contrast to that of her opponent, Republican Justin Dunkelberger.
"He (Dunkelberger) has a had a number of different businesses," Bartos said. "I'm not sure what training he has had in working with attorneys. We shouldn't have someone in the office who requires on-the-job training."
No stepping stone
Bartos said she has no higher political ambitions and does not view the prothonotary's office as a stepping stone to something bigger, such as county commissioner.
"I am not a career politician," Bartos remarked. "The legal profession is something I have always been involved in."
Bartos said she has a deep respect for the court system. She added that with her background, she can handle the custodial duties of the office with professionalism and expertise.
Bartos said she would like to put her experience to work for the benefit of all Northumberland County residents. Although she is not native to the county, her husband's family is. She and her husband, Steve (the Shamokin city clerk), have lived in Mount Carmel since 2000. They have two teen-age sons, Nate and Ethan.
Bartos was born in Long Island, but as part of a military family, she resided in 35 places while growing up. She graduated from Trinity High School in Shiremanstown and is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a major in urban planning.
Her college education instilled in her the importance of "building communities," Bartos said. Although not a native to the area, she has long considered Northumberland County her "home," she said. She is motivated by a desire, she said, to help the region.
Bartos said she takes very seriously the responsibility of the prothonotary and clerk of court to handle all documents filed there with efficiency and respect.
Bartos recalled that serving an internship in a law office during her college days, she was charged with transferring mortgage documents from one large file to another. This required her to inspect each one.
"One of the attorneys stressed that each file is part of somebody's life," she said. "I have never forgotten that. Every single file deserves respect and consideration."
Also during her college years, Bartos worked in magisterial district offices, in temporary and part-time roles while classes were in session, and on a more full-time basis during breaks and vacations. She later worked for about a year as a legal assistant in the Columbia County district attorney's office, and prior to moving to the area, as a receptionist, legal secretary and legal assistant in a Harrisburg-based law office.
Bartos stressed she is very familiar with the functions of both the prothonotary (which handles civil court documents) and clerk of courts (documents related to criminal cases). The two offices are separate in some counties, but are combined under one officeholder in Northumberland County.
Bartos said she would have no problem working with any other county official, elected or appointed, including the county commissioners.
"One of my main concerns," Bartos explained, "is that the office files, though public, can sometimes contain sensitive information." She said it is important that information in the files not be misused.
"Intimidation should have no place in the legal and judicial system," she said.
If elected, Bartos said, she certainly would not walk in and order a "blanket dismissal" of existing staff. She added, however, that it is premature to consider office staffing until she is elected. She acknowledged that current staff members have valuable experience and understand how the office performs its day-to-day operations.
Bartos vowed to make sure proper procedures and processes in the office are followed, and she added that employees will receive any additional training they may need in the future. One of her campaign planks is to work to incorporate 21st century technology and file management processes into the office's operation.
Bartos, who ran unsuccessfully for prothonotary in the 2009 Democratic primary, said she would have still sought election to the office this year if she had known at the time that row officers' salaries would be drastically reduced.
She said, if elected, she will consider the prothonotary/clerk of courts office to be her full-time job.
Bartos owns a firm, Green Reliance Associates, that provides services in grant writing, consulting and economic development. Since March, when she began campaigning, she has largely put those efforts on hold, except, in a very limited cases, for matters that require immediate attention.
She was the subject of controversy in August over her payment for contracted services for the city of Shamokin in preparing a grant application for a federal COPS grant. Although she was paid $2,500 for her services, the online application was only partially submitted.
"The grant was submitted. There were issues with the online application throughout the process. It was investigated by DOJ and reported by The News-Item previously," Bartos said.
She also worked for a time as a manager for Mount Carmel Township. Supervisors needed help with some projects, she noted, but they ultimately decided they didn't want to fund the position on a permanent basis.
Bartos has volunteered for a number of community organizations and projects.