Bailey files candidacy for court clerk after ‘leaving’ office she worked in for 17 years

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Kimberly "Kim" Bailey

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, June 27 — One week ago, Kim Bailey endured one of the toughest days she’s had in a while. She followed her heart and took a leap of faith to pursue something she had considered for months. However, as a result of that leap, she now finds herself unemployed after 17 years in the same office…something she hopes to remedy in November.

“I care about it,” Bailey said of her work in the clerk’s office of the Page County Circuit Court. “It means so much to me. I really care about what we do there…I care about the people here, and I care about the things that affect them.”

On the morning of the filing deadline, the Stanley resident submitted her 125 signatures and final candidacy paperwork with the voter registrar’s office to appear on the fall ballot as a candidate for clerk of the circuit court. She’d been seriously considering the position since the first of the year, and even shared those thoughts with the incumbent, her boss, back in February.

Last Tuesday, Bailey became the fourth and final candidate to file for the office.

“I feel like the years of experience that I’ve had in that office helps make me qualified for the position,” she said. “I want to make it a better place…I want to bring back efficiency and leadership.”

Bailey joins Stephanie Breeden of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office as an independent candidate for court clerk, as well as incumbent Grayson Markowitz. He will run for a second, eight-year term as an independent after losing the Republican nomination to Shirron Ballard at a local committee meeting in May. The four-way race is the most competitive on the Nov. 7 ballot in Page County.

“It’s very aggravating and stressful to work there every day and see things that you could actually fix and make work better, and you can’t do anything about it,” Bailey said during an interview with Page Valley News on Tuesday. “I really think I can put that office back on top.”

The longtime staff member said her main goal as court clerk would be making the office more efficient and addressing the backlog of files as case volumes (particularly criminal) continue to rise.

“I would say our work volume has probably tripled in the last few years,” Bailey said. “The first thing I would change is there definitely needs to be cross training. That would be No. 1 for me because when you have people out…someone needs to do that work. It shouldn’t just sit there.”

In a small country courtroom that used to field a handful of jury trials a year, the Page County Circuit Court now holds as many as 10 jury trials a month after changes in the law in 2020 by the Virginia General Assembly. Prisoners now have a choice in who renders sentencing, a judge or a jury. Bailey believes the increased communication with jurors could benefit from a new automated telephone service, like the one used in Rockingham County courts.

The former staff member also believes that communication with other agencies could be improved, and in particular, communication within the clerk’s office itself — whether it’s managing the staffers’ “time off” calendar to ensure a better workflow in the office, or communicating clearly on the consequences of becoming a candidate to be the next court clerk.

“When I discussed this with Grayson in February…and let him know I was thinking about running, he said, ‘That’s going to complicate things’ and ‘you’re going to lose your job,'” Bailey told PVN. “I also went to him on June 15 [five days before filing] and told him that I had decided to run and he told me at that time, ‘You know you’re going to lose your job. I want you to tell me when you turn in your paperwork.'”

Around 3 p.m. on filing day (June 20), Bailey said she did just that. Although she filed that morning, Markowitz had been in court all day.

“I told him I filed and he said it back to me, ‘You filed your paperwork?’…and I said, ‘Yes,’ and he said, ‘Then that’s it,'” Bailey recalled. “I asked him, ‘So you’re firing me?’ and he sort of nodded his head and [made a noise.] He offered for me to stay until Friday, but I refused.”

On Monday morning, Bailey, 56, filed for unemployment and told her story during a 90-minute interview with state officials. She met with the county’s human resources director soon after leaving the courthouse last week and has been told that she will likely be eligible for unemployment — something typically not given following a resignation.

However, despite never receiving a resignation letter, Markowitz is adamant his former employee walked out on her own and was not fired.

“No, she wasn’t fired and my whole staff will attest to that…I never said ‘You’re fired’,” Markowitz told PVN on Tuesday afternoon. “I did ask her to stay until Friday, and we could discuss it…and she said, ‘I’m not going to stay here and help you all.’ She quit…she walked out the door. I don’t know what you call that…but I didn’t fire her. As far as I’m concerned, she resigned by walking out the door.”

At that point, Markowitz turned everything over to the county’s human resources department. He did not even respond to a text message that Bailey sent him at 4:47 p.m. on June 20. It read:

“I just wanna make sure that you just fired me, when I asked you if you were letting me go and you said yes!! I just wanna make sure we’re on the same page?”

Markowitz acknowledges the previous conversations about her candidacy that he had with Bailey. The current clerk of the court says he only noted that her running for his office would make other staffer members uncomfortable, especially if Bailey were shedding a negative light on the work done in the office.

“I told her it wouldn’t be advantageous to have her in here talking negatively about the organization,” Markowitz said on Tuesday. “It’s not good for staff.”

Looking on the bright side, Bailey said she now has time to dedicate to her campaign. The 1985 graduate of Page County High School emphasizes that she wants to run a clean campaign and shows some remorse over being critical of the office she worked in for nearly two decades. However, she believes that her past experience can lead to improvements in an overworked and understaffed clerk’s office.

“We could use two more people easily,” she said.

Prior to arriving in the clerk’s office, Bailey began her career with a three-year stint working for Pentagon Federal Credit Union, where she helped with banking and loans and often visited the actual Pentagon to work on contracts. She then spent three years working with the Drug Enforcement Agency dealing in financials matters, including custody of more than $200,000 stored in a safe that she dispensed to agents for drug buys leading to drug busts.

Bailey took some time off to raise her two daughters (now grown) before rejoining the workforce for 18 months to focus on accreditation for the Page County Sheriff’s Office. She then landed in the clerk of the court’s office in 2006. Her vast experience, especially 17 years in the clerk’s office itself, has lead to her recent decision to seek the clerk’s seat.

Although she has pondered a run at the office for some time, it was the results of the Republican Committee meeting in May that pushed Bailey to a decision. When she saw that “the Republican Party had lost faith in Grayson…I thought that was my chance.”

“The relationships you build with people over all that time is important…close relationships with other local agencies…people call me all the time, even on weekends,” Bailey said. “I feel just so devoted to that office…people trust me, they know when I say I’m going to do something I will follow it through to the end.”

“I want to be the difference in that office,” Bailey continued. “I want it to be one of the best circuit courts in Virginia…I don’t want to keep sending staff to other courts to learn how to do things…I want them to come to us.”

For more information about the candidate,

visit the Kim Bailey for Clerk of the Court Facebook page.



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