NEW PORT RICHEY — Paula O'Neil is Pasco County's new Clerk of the Circuit Court.
The Republican O'Neil, the chief deputy in the clerk's office, beat longtime local attorney Robert Altman. She replaces her boss. Jed Pittman is retiring after 32 years as clerk.
O'Neil won comfortably. She had won more than 57 percent of the vote with almost all of the county's precincts reporting Tuesday night.
"It's looking good," she said.
The clerk of the court is in charge of an office that has nearly 400 employees and an annual budget of about $28-million. O'Neil will serve a four-year term and make $137,144 a year.
The clerk's office files, sorts and protects the millions of records of the county and its people. Last year, the office processed 10,000 passports, handled 129,000 court cases, recorded 200,000 official documents and handled almost 3-million court documents. The office also acts as the county treasurer, auditor and chief financial officer.
O'Neil, 52, is a Missouri native who moved here from South Carolina in 1987. She has worked for the county ever since.
She spent nine years with the community services department and six more after that with parks and recreation.
She joined the clerk's office when Pittman hired her as his strategic planner in 2002.
She became chief deputy two years ago and recently has all but run the office because Pittman's poor health.
O'Neil lives in Bayonet Point and has two grown sons. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in management and decision sciences at Walden University.
She has called the clerk's office the hub of county government and pledges to continue to improve customer service and also technology with pascoclerk.com on the way to a paperless courts system.
Online, she has said, instead of in line.
Michael Kruse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6244.