Crystal Rector Carpenter – Class of 1984
Burke County Clerk Of Superior Court

At the end of my ninth grade year while attending Drexel Junior High, I was awarded the Most Likely to Succeed superlative. Little did I know what that would come to mean. Success comes in many forms, and only the beholder knows what it truly means to them. Many look at others and think, “Wow, they really made it! They have everything,” while the person to whom they are looking feels like a complete failure. I can honestly say that I have been from one end of the spectrum to the other.

It all began before I graduated from East Burke High School with the unlikeliest of jobs. I drove a school bus my senior year. Little did I know that it would help point me in the direction of a leader. Although I didn’t really think about what a responsibility it was at the time, looking back, the experience taught me how to remain calm when crisis arose. Keeping everyone safe was the focus, not the fight going on in the back of the bus. However, I wasn’t afraid to take hold of the situation. Confrontation is never easy, but it is necessary.

After graduation, an opportunity to work in the office of a manufacturing facility arose. Within six years, I was promoted to supervisor over the foam department and in two more years, I was second in command of the entire facility as plant superintendent. I eventually left this job to be a stay at home Mom.

Another career opportunity presented itself when I started a job helping with printing and embroidery that ended in sales. I was blessed to work with our public servants and provide them with what they need to help keep us safe. I thought I would spend the rest of my life in this field, but God had other plans for me.

In August of 2006 at the age of 40, I began my career at the Burke County Clerk’s Office. I knew little to nothing about the Clerk’s Office, but it didn’t take long to grasp the idea that this is a place that most people do not like to be. When you are at the Clerk’s Office, it usually means that you’ve been charged with breaking a law, you may be having issues with your family, losing your home, filing an estate for a loved one…… there are a number of reasons why you might find yourself there.

The Clerk’s Office is located at the Burke County Courthouse and is made up of three different departments. The Criminal Department handles anything from an expired registration to murder. The Civil Department deals with family issues, judgements, foreclosures, juveniles, name changes, adoptions, and much more. The Estates Office helps with estate matters, incompetencies, and guardianships. Of course, there’s no way I could fully explain what all happens in the office, as something new always crops up and I learn along with everyone else every day.

July 2015 was when I became an Assistant Clerk, which meant I had the authority and could perform just about any task as the Clerk. The Clerk is the judge of estate matters, incompetencies, guardianships, adoptions, foreclosures, name changes and other hearings as well as the person who oversees the operations of the Clerk’s Office itself.

Fast forward to June of 2021. The decision was made to enter the race for Burke County Clerk of Superior Court. Earlier that year, I had asked God to give my husband of 36 years and me something we could do together. Little did I know what I was asking. Since then, I was blessed to have won the race.

I’ve been the Clerk for a little over a year, and it has been a time of reflection and growth. I have been privileged to swear into office many of the elected officials across the county, met and helped lots of people, and grown in knowledge with my staff. The most important part of my job is you, the citizens of Burke County! This position is way more than a job to me; it is a ministry that I feel God has given to me. He has put my staff and me in our positions to help people of all walks of life. I made the pledge when running for office that no matter who you are, you will be treated with respect and dignity anytime you find yourself at the courthouse.

I am grateful and very humbled to serve as Burke County’s Clerk of Court. I do count my life as a success, but not because of my job. I truly believe that when you are in God’s will, there’s nothing better or more successful! So to me, this is what I call success.

Published January 2024

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