The previous Chester County Register of Wills is eager to regain her post and says she will restore optimum functioning to the office.
The Republican Committee of Chester County (RCCC) met via Zoom earlier this month and endorsed Terri Clark as the 2023 GOP candidate for Register of Wills. Clark served two terms as Chester County Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans’ Court from 2011-2019.
During her tenure, she brought technological advancements to the office, conducted and ruled on contested will hearings, and introduced new efficiencies for budgeting and management, reducing costs, according to a statement from the RCCC. Before being elected Register of Wills, Clark served in the Chester County Controller’s office.
“Terri Clark served with distinction in her prior two terms as Register of Wills. She brings a wealth of experience and insight to the role and will no doubt restore efficiency and operational excellence in that office,” said Chester County GOP Chair Raffi Terzian.
Clark said she decided to run again for the row office after a previous candidate, Shawn Mullen, dropped out because “I have heard about the negative ways the office is being run. Some of the initiatives that I started were taken away.”
The current Register of Wills, Michele Vaughn, is rarely in the office and until recently held a different full-time job while collecting an $84,513 a year county paycheck, Clark claimed.
“I’d love to get back and straighten it out,” said Clark. “The current Register of Wills does not know how to run the office because she hasn’t spent the time to learn. Until recently, she had another full-time job, so she has been collecting taxpayers’ money for her salary and not doing a job for it,” said Clark.
When Clark held the post, they would go offsite to handle marriage licenses for people who were disabled and “lacked the physical capacity to come into the office,” she said. She would also help veterans suffering from PTSD in “a designated, small, quiet area to do their marriage license applications.”
Also, the computer software the office uses “is not working to its fullest capacity,” she said. If elected, she will contact the software company and have them revamp it so it does what it is supposed to, she said.
The Register of Wills is the place where people go to open an estate after someone dies. The register then probates the will and acts as an agent of the state for collecting inheritance taxes.
Also, even though the COVID pandemic is over, people must make appointments and cannot just show up to do business.
“Which I’m very much against,” said Clark. “The taxpayers pay for that office, everyone’s salary, they pay for everything used in that office, so they should have access to that.”
People have come to Chester County from out of town to execute wills and are surprised to learn they must make an appointment, often having to stay an extra day.
In addition to wills, the office handles Orphan’s Court matters, such as adoption, marriage licenses, and guardianships.
Previously, Clark served on the West Chester Area School Board.
Vaughn, a Democrat who is running for another term, did not respond to requests for comment. She is a former East Whiteland supervisor and regional director for the Pennsylvania Federation of Democratic Women and Chair of the Chester County Democratic Women’s Leadership Initiative, according to the Chester County Democratic Party’s website.