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Several vying for appointment as Orange County clerk of courts

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9's Lori Brown got a look at the list of those who want the job of running Orange County's court system.

The position has been filled on an interim basis since May, when Clerk of Courts Lydia Gardner died of cancer.

The applicants range from the attorney for former Orange County Commissioner Mildred Fernandez, who pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe, to current county commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell and the current interim clerk.

Colleen M. Reilly, the interim clerk of courts, declined to talk to Channel 9's Lori Brown about why she wants the clerk of courts job, and she’s previously declined to talk to WFTV about the role her office played in a forgery scam that allowed two prisoners to escape from a Florida state prison.

Brown learned there are 11 others vying for the position.

"The impression of how the courts work is the impression they'll get of justice," said Anthony Suarez, one of those seeking the position. "If you perceive you're getting railroaded, the whole system collapses."

Suarez, an attorney and former state representative, said he would work to make the clerk's office more efficient.

"I can't begin to estimate the hours and dollars we could save in nothing else but lawyers waiting in line for their case to be called for something as little as Skype."

Another applicant, mortgage fraud investigator Joseph Stephens, said he is concerned that the current system is losing out on revenue.

"We're looking at the public record where these different loans or mortgages are recorded into the public record, and that's how you keep track of who owns what, and what I find every day of the week is these things were never recorded, which is the requirement of the law. There are millions of missing funds that should be there," said Stephens.

Gov. Rick Scott, who is to appoint Gardner's replacement, has left the permanent position for clerk of courts open for eight months.