Mecklenburg Clerk of Court: Chinn Gary to lead courthouse staff

Democrat Elisa Chinn Gary appeared on the cusp of becoming Mecklenburg County’s next clerk of Superior Court.

The 45-year-old attorney, the longtime administrator of Family Court, led her Republican opponent Martha Efird about 54 percent to 46 percent. Chinn Gary carried more than a 16,000-vote lead with two-thirds of the precincts counted.

Efird, 54, is the handpicked successor of retiring incumbent Martha Curran. Efird served as one of Curran’s top assistants for two years. She touted that experience and her own legal career as giving her a clear advantage in the race.

“The duties and functions of the clerk’s office are a job. Having worked in the clerk’s office as an attorney, I have done the job,” Efird said during the campaign.

But Chinn Gary, who has run the Family Court since 2001, also presented herself to voters as intimately connected with the workings of the courthouse. The UNC law graduate has served as a juvenile defender and an attorney advocate for the state’s guardian ad litem program.

She says she is best qualified to fully launch the office into the 21st Century. Pushing for change, she says, “requires institutional knowledge, proven leadership, integrity and diplomacy.”

Curran has run the staff of more than 200 for a quarter of a century. The office handles some 300,000 filings each year and stores all criminal and civil court files.

Both candidates have attracted an impressive list of endorsements, some crossing party lines.