Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Brandon Patty to fill the St. Johns County Clerk of Court and Comptroller position left vacant in December when Hunter Conrad resigned to take the role of county administrator. The term ends December 2020.
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to get the call to serve by the governor,” Patty said. “It’s humbling.”
Patty is a Florida native, born in Okeechobee and raised in Tallahassee. He graduated in 2005 from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and earned a master’s in international relations from The London School of Economics in 2011.
Patty is currently chair of the St. Johns County Republican Party and serves as an information warfare officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
Patty walked through the doors to the County Administration Building Dec. 17 and describes what the public sees of the clerk’s office as “the tip of the iceberg.” The office partners with the court system, safeguards taxpayer money and acts as custodian of records.
“The good news is, the clerk’s office has been very well run by Hunter,” Patty said.
With a 100-person office and a $7.5 million budget, the learning curve has been steep. Patty said he’s calling on his cumulative management experience, including military service and even working at Publix in high school, in his new role with the county.
Recording documents is a primary point of interaction with the public for the clerk’s office. Recently, Patty learned residents were waiting in line for documents to be processed – mostly passports. Patty and his senior staff will be trained to process passports so they can step in when demand is high. However, if he or his staff is pulled from regular duties on more than an occasional basis, Patty will look for a different solution.
“It’s about residents getting the service they need in a timely fashion,” he said, acknowledging the county’s rapid growth brings challenges for all. His management focus will be to facilitate a more streamlined, efficient and effective clerk’s office.
Because the office keeps legal records like deeds, marriages and court documents, the St. Johns County Clerk’s office has more items than “younger” counties might. A stash of papers from the 1600s was recently found in a closet. Nicknamed the “breadbox papers,” the St. Augustine Historical Research Library will have access to the documents for copying and review.
“There’s so much history here,” Patty said. “Many [clerks] have come before me and many will come after. I want to be a good steward … for the clerk’s office to be proud we’re part of this history.”