The Akron Legal News

Login | June 23, 2024

Akron muni clerk Sandra Kurt unveils her agenda

Legal News Reporter

Published: February 9, 2024

During her tenure as Summit County Clerk of Courts, Sandra Kurt worked to make the office’s legal division more efficient, instituting electronic filing and modernizing accounting.
Now after making history as the first Democrat to be elected Akron Municipal Court clerk of courts, Kurt has begun a similar effort, vowing to bring its operations into the 21st century.
“I ran for the position because the clerk’s office at Akron Municipal Court was in desperate need of an upgrade,” said Kurt. “It is primarily a paper office with minimal online searchability.
“The legal community and residents deserve a clerk’s office that runs efficiently and provides easy access to the services they need and that’s what I am going to give them.”
Kurt, who was sworn in by Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Jennifer Towell, started as Akron Municipal Court clerk at the beginning of January 2024.
She unseated her Republican opponent Debbie Walsh who had served in the position since longtime Clerk of Courts Jim Laria retired.
When she ran for the Akron clerk’s office, Kurt still had over a year remaining on her term as Summit County clerk of courts.
Former state Rep. Tavia Galonski was appointed by the Democratic Central Committee to fill Kurt’s former position.
Akron Municipal Court Administrative/Presiding Judge Annalisa Williams described Kurt as “a strong leader,” with an “impressive” professional background.
“I am eager to work closely with her in her new role as the Akron Municipal Court clerk,” said Judge Williams. “She is passionate about advancing our court’s technology and cares about serving the public in a meaningful way.
“I look forward to our teams collaborating as we launch a new case management system which will impact all court users,” Judge Williams said. “I am confident she will serve our jurisdiction well.” 
Kurt brings an unusual skill set to the Akron clerk’s office, having both political and engineering experience.
In fact, the Iowa native spent most of her career working for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in a technical capacity.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State University she entered Goodyear’s Manufacturing Leadership Program. The program was designed to train engineers for plant management at an accelerated pace through a variety of assignments.
During the first year she was located in the company’s tire plant in Lawton, Oklahoma and had a wide variety of duties including mixing rubber and building tires.
She then worked in two different factories in Alabama before arriving in Akron in 1988.
“I was initially responsible for designing efficiency studies to improve our tire manufacturing processes,” said Kurt. “Toward the end of my career I managed the capital plan for the corporation and converted the paper budgeting process into one that is electronic and used by all Goodyear divisions around the world.”
When she retired in 2015 she held the title of project manager.
She had also been elected to two political offices including Akron Ward 8 council member in 2009, and not long after, as an at-large member of the Summit County Council, a position that she started in 2011.
“When I ran for my Ward 8 council seat I was the first out LGBTQ+ candidate to run for office in Summit County,” said Kurt.
During her time on the county council she was unanimously elected vice president of the council twice. She also chaired the public works committee and was vice chair of the finance committee during her entire tenure.
She also served as interim chair of the Summit County Democratic Party in 2015.
Kurt started as Summit County clerk of courts at the beginning of 2016 after being appointed to replace former Summit County Clerk Dan Horrigan who was elected mayor of Akron.
After winning the election to retain the seat later that year she was re-elected again in 2020.
“We had completed our conversion to electronic filing when everything shut down due to the pandemic so we were able to transition seamlessly with no interruptions of service to virtual interactions with our customers,” said Kurt.
She also added weekend and evening hours to the title division to make it easier for residents to process their auto and boat titles and get passports as well as services such as the sale of county dog licenses.
Although the timeline has not been set, Kurt said those who use the clerk’s office can look forward to a number of changes.
“My plan is to not only make it possible to file and search cases online, I also want residents to be able to pay their fees and fines electronically,” said Kurt.
“Additionally, with records in an electronic format, the court’s administrative staff as well as the judges and magistrates will be able to access the records they need at their desks instead of coming down to our office and waiting for one of my clerks to locate the physical file and retrieve it for them.
“We already have a contract with a new software company,” said Kurt. “The courts are ready to implement it but the clerk’s office is not.”
A member of the Ohio Association of Municipal/County Court Clerks, Kurt continues to be active in the Summit County community.
She is on the board of Friends of Metro Parks and serves as an advisory board member at Harry Donovan Jr. Valor Home, a transitional housing program for homeless veterans.
“It is an honor and a privilege to use my talents and skills in service to my community,” said Kurt. “I’m proud of my work as Summit County clerk of courts and I look forward to making an even more significant impact as clerk of the Akron Municipal Court.”