As she works to provide people with the best service possible, Krystal Valdez’s love for Ellis County grows daily. Valdez was elected to the county clerk’s office nine months ago and continues to educate herself to ensure operations run efficiently while providing a great customer experience for residents.
Before being elected to office, Valdez served in the county clerk’s office and later for Judge Jim Chapman in County Court at Law No. 1.
As the county clerk, Valdez serves as the clerk for the county courts and commissioners’ court and is charged with keeping records of the proceedings. Other responsibilities include serving as the record holder of deeds, birth and death certificates, issuing marriage licenses and documenting assumed names, wills and probate.
“It has been amazing,” she said. “I feel like my experience before and working for the judge had prepared me for this. Had I not worked for the judge or learned how to research codes, legislative information and just knowing the resources, it would have been difficult.
“With the legislative, there are over 50 bills that affect our office and the courts,” she said. “So, the changes that we are having to go through or prepare for have been interesting.”
One of the projects she’s taken on is to ensure the fees her office charges are up to date and in line with current law. She is also working to get that information posted on the county clerk’s website, so it’s available for the public along with different forms.
“If you have looked at the county clerk’s website, there is nothing really on there,” she said. “It is pretty bare.
“We have never had an official fee schedule,” Valdez said. “Every fee that we charge is a combination of different smaller fees that come from different areas of the law. Some might come from the local government code, some of them are government code, some are tax code and some are from the property tax code. So, I had to go through each one of those, line by line, in that code to make sure that it was correct.”
The clerk’s office is also planning for when the new County Court at Law No. 3 opens in 2021.
“We have three staff right now that are dedicated to criminal,” she said. “One clerk is always in Judge Gene Calvert’s office and I am assuming that one will be in the new judge’s office.
“So, we will be down to one again and will need to look at our staffing in the next budget year to see if we need to make any accommodations because it will affect our staffing and our resources,” she said. “We will have to come up with a way to file all of those files. Every court is color coded and every court has a specific way that they like things done.”
In making the transition from employee to boss, Valdez is enjoying her new responsibilities and the challenges that come with the position.
“My entire life I always got answers from my boss, the judge, because things are so important that you don’t want to make a wrong decision and answer anything incorrectly,” she said. “I would just go to the judge and say, ‘What do you want to do about this?’ or ‘What do you want to do about that?’ He would just give me an answer.
“My first week when I got those questions, I thought, ‘I have to answer it,’ ” she said. “It was different but I feel like I have rolled right into it. We haven’t skipped a beat and, if I didn’t know the answer, I was not afraid to say, ‘I don’t know but let me find out.’ As I mentioned with my previous experience, I was able to go and find the resource to find the answer. Sometimes that is half the battle, knowing the resources.”
Valdez expresses her appreciation to her staff who “work hard to make the office and the service it provides shine daily.”
“I am just so gratefully that [the voters] trusted me and put me in office and are giving me the opportunity to serve because I truly love it,” Valdez said. “I go home every day and, even if I am tired, I tell my husband I love it.”