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2012 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Beth White

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Marion County Clerk

Sphere of Influence: White oversees the budget of the local court system, but she’s better known for making sure election day in Marion County runs smoothly.
 

white-elizabeth-15col.jpg(IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Beth White plays dual roles in local government. As Marion County clerk—the full title is Marion County Circuit Court Clerk—her office oversees the $35 million that flows through the court system annually.

“But people don’t pay attention to that at all,” she acknowledged.

The far more visible part of her job is running elections, and making sure they run smoothly. And her passion is getting people to vote.

“I feel like it’s my responsibility to make this process work for people,” White said. “We’ve tried hard to think of ways to make that possible.”

White grew up in Bloomington, the daughter of a professor father and teacher mother. They stoked her early interest in politics and government, and after graduating from Indiana University-Bloomington, she moved on to Georgetown Law School and interned for Congressman Lee Hamilton.

She started in private practice, went into government, and now has compiled a resume that includes working for two governors, a prosecutor, a mayor and now her own office.

“I’ve been very lucky, and I’ve learned a lot along the way,” White said. “What I’ve learned is that I don’t have all the answers and that governing is very complicated.”

All the more reason for everyone to participate, she said.

So she’s tried to make the process easier by:

• Expanding satellite voting locations in 2008, enabling 72,000 people to vote early. (Republicans on the Election Board have not permitted satellite locations since, she said.)

• Promoting the Traveling Board program, which sends teams of people to voters who are confined to their homes.

• Recruiting new poll workers, including high school students, to make elections run more smoothly, and instituting policies to have backup election inspectors ready in cases of emergency.

She also visits schools regularly to explain to students how the election process works and why government should matter to them. One recent morning, a Ben Davis High School student made the mistake of telling White, “I don’t vote because I don’t care.” White proceeded to show her how Congress and the president connect to her life through student loans.

“I think that people have confidence in their government only to the extent that they participate in it,” she said. “The people who don’t participate or feel disaffected by the process are not invested in their government. That’s a huge problem, and I think it’s something those of us in elected office have a responsibility to work on. And I’m lucky enough to have a job where I have a terrific bully pulpit.”

Outside of work, White is active in Central Christian Church, where she sings in the choir and has been an elder. She’s also on the board of the Julian Center, which serves victims of domestic violence. “I was a criminal prosecutor early in my career, and I really appreciate and understand the terrible impact domestic violence has on the community.”

She lives in Irvington with her husband, Neil Marcus, and their 3-year-old son, Nathaniel, who, around election time, sometimes sees more of his mom on television than in person.

“But it’s a privilege to serve,” White said. “I really love the work we do.”•

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Click here to return to the Women of Influence landing page.  

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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