Lance Marino began his new job last week as the parishís Clerk of Court, and said he will keep close watch on his staff to avoid any improprieties.
Former Clerk of Court Charlie Oubre had to deal with negative publicity related to some of his staff members being arrested and charged with accepting payments to fix tickets.
"I think it is my job to stay on top of my office and be aware of everything that is going on," Marino said. "When I see any indications or tendencies that I might have a problem with, I have to address them right away."
Marino also plans on making some physical changes to the office so he can oversee his staff better.
"I am planning on putting a window right there and there (looking out from his office). I think at least in that manner I can more easily observe the customers are getting waited on more quickly and that type of thing," Marino said. "I want to be more of a part of the office."
Marino comes from a family with deep political connections to the parish.
His father, Johnny Marino, was the St. Charles Parish sheriff from 1984-96 and his brother, Johnny. Jr., is a justice of the peace. Marino himself served two terms as councilman before taking a stab at the clerk position.
A Norco native, Marino had planned on becoming an attorney when he first began his college education. He received an English creative writing degree from LSU.
"Back then I did some internship in law offices and courtroom and I did some research. That later rolled into doing some paralegal work," Marino said. "Along the way, I determined the legal profession wasnít for me, but certainly assisting the attorneys here in St. Charles Parish in making all the processes of the Clerk of Courtís Office available to them and better for them is something I am interested in doing."
Marino credits his work on his fatherís campaigns as laying the foundation for his dedication to public service.
"I guess I first had a love of public service instilled in me when my father was sheriff for 12 years," Marino said. "I was involved intimately in every one of those campaigns and I loved every minute of it, so I ran for council and won a couple of terms."
In the 2007 election, Marino ran against Oubre for clerk and lost.
"I got 42 percent of the vote and he (Oubre) got 54 percent and one other fellow got six or seven percent," Marino said. "But it was a statement that I had some support for the job."
That election was not Marinoís first defeat. He ran against current Sheriff Greg Champagne to succeed his father as sheriff in 1995.
"I was 34 years old. I ran pretty well. I did 12 percent of the vote, but I did get my name out there, which was the goal of that campaign," Marino said. "So I realized the smart thing to do was to get some council experience and hopefully impress people that I am capable of doing a good job. I think I did that for eight years."
In the 2011 election, Marino said he began to campaign early in the year.
"We probably started in April, which in a way was too early because who wants to see a campaigner on their doorstep? But I wanted the word out that I am vying for the job," Marino said. "I believe we covered every neighborhood in this parish and it was me, my wife, my kids, brothers and sisters, friends and I was kind of the constant."
Marino said the campaign marked the tenth for his family and he credits that experience with his victory. He edged out Oubre, who had held onto the position for 33 years, by garnering 53 percent of the vote to Oubreís 47 percent.
So far, Marino will be the only change in the clerkís office since he is currently keeping all of Oubreís staff in place.
"Like any new job there is a lot to address, but fortunately we have an excellent staff in place with a lot of experience," Marino said. "I am crediting myself for being smart enough for keeping them in place."
However, Marino said he asked all of his staff members to fill out an application listing their job duties and that after 90 days he will be reviewing each one.
Marino said he hopes to begin work on his campaign pledge to modernize and streamline the office by upgrading its technological framework.
"I want to have a full-blown website that explains to the public where we are, how many records are available and what years and what records still have to be back scanned. The ultimate goal is having every record thatís available here available online," Marino said. "Thatís going to take time, but we are going to get started on it."
Marino said the office is behind the times in workplace interactivity. He cites the lack of personal emails for his staff members as an inefficiency that he hopes to quickly resolve. The office only has one email account for its 27 staff members.
"I currently donít have a computer on my desk. I just ordered that. He (Oubre) had never used one," Marino said. "So I need that. I need my own email account as do all the ladies who work here. So if you start a business interaction with one of them, you can actually from your desktop or your phone communicate with that person directly instead of just this one email account."
Marino said his end goal is to better assist the governmental entities and the public as a whole.
"The way I look at it is I am not only here to serve the public, I see it as an important job in that I am aiding all the other agencies of government," Marino said. "So my goal as soon as I get my feet on the ground here is to meet with all of those other agencies and find out what can we do to update and modernize our processes that works hand in glove with you so you are more effective in doing your job."