Shipp wants to keep clerk’s job

Albemarle Clerk of Court Debbie Shipp is running again, this time as an independent.
Staff photo Albemarle Clerk of Court Debbie Shipp is running again, this time as an independent. Staff photo

Debbie Shipp announced May 14 she’s seeking a second term as Albemarle clerk of court, although this time as an independent. When she ran in 2007, she won the Democratic caucus and was the successor to long-time clerk Shelby Marshall.

Shipp stressed her 39 years of experience in the office responsible for maintaining the county’s records in a job that includes more than 800 duties. When she started working there in 1976, receipts were handwritten, she said. Now she’s working to digitize the county’s historic records and scan complete criminal records.

During her term, she’s had several audits that showed problems with record and fund management. Shipp blamed lack of staffing and two personal tragedies since taking office. In 2011, her 21-year-old son was killed in a car crash. And a year later, her sister, deputy clerk Pam Melampy, died suddenly.

Over a year ago, a fellow Dem, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jon Zug, said he was challenging her.

Shipp is the second county Democrat to run as an independent. Earlier, former 5th District congressional candidate Lawrence Gaughan announced a bid for supervisor as a Democrat, then shifted to independent. The county Dems held a caucus May 18, with zero challenged seats.

“The party has changed since I first became clerk,” said Shipp, but she also emphasized that the clerk’s job should be nonpartisan, and when people walk into the clerk’s office, she doesn’t size them up to determine political affiliation. Still, she acknowledged an independent run “is going to be a lot of hard work.”

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