Voter Guide: Q&A with the only candidate for Albemarle County Clerk of Circuit Court

Illustrated graphic of map of central Virginia with a purple overlay color.

In Virginia, clerks of Circuit Court are elected for eight-year terms and have a range of duties, including making sure the public has access to Circuit Court systems. Jon R. Zug is the incumbent and is running unopposed for the office of Clerk of Circuit Court for Albemarle County.

Zug has served as clerk in Albemarle County for eight years. If elected this will be his second term.

Zug was the only candidate certified by the Virginia Department of Elections, though voters can write in other candidates’ names if they choose.

Charlottesville Tomorrow designed a questionnaire based on over 200 responses we received to a voter survey. Zug answered these questions by email in August.

Can you explain what the job of clerk of court is and why you are running?

Jon R. Zug: I’m running for re-election to continue to guide the clerk’s office in a positive direction. The clerk’s office is responsible for no less than 815 separate duties, but the main function of the office is to maintain the land and court records of the jurisdiction, and to assist the functioning of the entire court system for Albemarle. I have greatly improved jury service during my first term as Clerk; I’ve gotten almost the entirety of the land records in Albemarle County (dating back to 1748) into digital format to make them more accessible without continuing to damage the historical records through constant human contact (thus better preserving them for posterity); and I’ve been shepherding, along with many others, the upcoming renovation of the courthouse that will allow the historical courthouse to be in effective use for at least the next 50 years. Given that we are one of less than ten courthouses in the entire country that still operates daily out of the same courthouse that dates back to colonial times, that is a big deal.

Has your position ever been contested? Why do you think there aren’t more candidates for these positions in central Virginia?

Zug: My position was contested by no less than four candidates (including me) when I first ran for the office back in 2015. I would like to think that I’m running unopposed because of the good work that my staff and I have done in keeping the office running smoothly and efficiently, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we never had to close our doors to the public.

What are the biggest challenges facing the office?

Zug: The renovations to the courthouse will result in the loss of space for the clerk’s office, where space is already a premium. My work with the design team for the renovations means that we’ve had meaningful impact in how the office will be able to continue to do more, with less.

Do you have any certifications or qualifications you want voters to know about?

Zug: I believe that it has been helpful to the community at large to have an attorney at the helm of the office, as there has not been an attorney as clerk for almost 100 years prior to my taking office. While being an attorney is not required to be clerk, my knowledge of the law, and the legal community in Charlottesville and Albemarle has been a huge benefit to the citizenry. They can count on me to follow the legal requirements of the office, and also to direct them to the right legal resources/attorneys who can assist them with their legal needs. I’ve built long-term relationships with the Charlottesville Albemarle Bar Association that make referrals from my office to the right attorneys a weekly, if not daily, occurrence.

Jon R. Zug’s campaign contributions from the Virginia Public Access Project

Jon R. Zug’s 2015 candidate statement, published in the Crozet Gazette