Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Pike County is home to some of the youngest elected court officials in the state – but that youth doesn’t mean inexperience.
“I’ve been here since I was 19,” said Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough. “I’ve worked in the court system about half my life.”
Scarbrough, 36, a native of Pike County, began her time in the Circuit Clerk’s office as a temporary hire, then moved up to Court Specialist 1. By the time she was appointed as Circuit Clerk in 2012, she had been promoted to Court Specialist 4.
When Scarbrough began her courthouse career, she had been attending radiology school and was only two quarters away from graduating.
“When I started at 19, I never envisioned I would be here right now,” Scarbrough said. “I was just looking for a job with insurance and retirement.”
But that has all changed. In the November election, voters showed confidence in Scarbrough to serve another term in her office and she has no plans of slowing down.
“I love my job. What I enjoy most is the customer service aspect of my work. I like being able to help people,” Scarbrough said.
But Scarbrough’s youth hasn’t put her behind her counterparts statewide.
“The funny thing about it is when I go to conferences I am the youngest, but I have 17 years of experience,” Scarbrough said. “And what’s good about starting out in this position while I was young is that I realize we are moving into a new age of technology and new way of doing things. I think it is easier for me to see all the good things we can move toward and help facilitate that.”
Tom Anderson, 34, was sworn in as the District Attorney of the 12th Judicial Circuit two years ago. At that time, he was the second youngest District Attorney in Alabama.
And although he’s been successful in his legal career, being an attorney wasn’t always his plan.
His grandfather was a judge and his uncle was a law professor. However, Anderson originally enrolled at Birmingham Southern as a pre-med student.
“My grades were fine, but I was just unhappy,” Anderson shared.
Anderson graduated cum laude from Birmingham Southern with a business and finance degree in 2000, and then from law school at the University of Alabama in 2003.
“I intended to be a civil practitioner. I never thought about criminal law,” Anderson said.
That was until nine months into working at a private practice. Then, Anderson had lunch with Gary Mcalily who was the DA at the time. Mcalily told Anderson an assistant district attorney was leaving her position.
“I asked who he was looking at to replace her,” Anderson recalled. “He said, ‘Well, honestly, I am looking at you.’”
From not considering criminal law to becoming the area’s District Attorney, Anderson hasn’t looked back.
“I fell in love with it,” he said. “What we do is so important to me, and increasingly so.”
Anderson said he doesn’t feel hindered in his position by youth. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and he said working with people close in age, such as Scarbrough and Probate Judge Wes Allen, creates an avenue for success.
“We are all eager to accept change. Because of the world we grew up in, we adapt at a quicker pace and can be efficient and innovative,” Anderson said.
People may be familiar with XFL player Quincy Jackson and NFL player Cornelius Griffin, but they might not know Probate Judge Wes Allen was a walk on at the University of Alabama at the same time Jackson and Griffin were players.
After Allen’s time at Alabama, he received his master’s degree from Troy University and was the Assistant Athletic Director of Development when Gov. Bob Riley appointed him Pike County Probate Judge.
“I had a natural bend toward public service,” Allen, now 37, said, noting his father was a four-term county commissioner and his father is a state senator. “I was excited for the opportunity because I knew the impact that could be made for the good of the people.”
Allen said he hadn’t really thought about becoming a probate judge until the door was opened to him.
“I am blessed to serve the 32,500 people in Pike County,” he said. “It’s an honor.”
Allen said that although he, Scarbrough and Anderson are young compared to other courthouse officials throughout the state, they still practice “good, old-fashioned hard work.”
“I think our philosophy is the same – work hard every day for the people of Pike County,” Allen said. “It’s simple, but it’s the best way to explain it.”
And this trio hopes to continue to serve Pike County until their age reflects their experience.
“We want to do our jobs to the best of our ability,” Anderson added. “We all want to stay as long as the people will have us.”