Dan Byrnes, son of York County commissioner, running for clerk of courts

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Combat veteran and York County native Dan Byrnes, 38, of Dallastown, is running for York County Clerk of Courts.

A York County native and U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran is running for York County clerk of courts with the hope of addressing what he described as systemic inefficiencies in the department.

Dan Byrnes, 38, served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom before earning his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. He is running in the Republican primary.

"Nobody even knows what the clerk of courts is, and they play a huge role," he said. "It’s all behind the scenes, but it directly affects tens of thousands of people."

The Clerk of Courts Office is responsible for maintaining criminal records from the York County Court of Common Pleas and for collecting fines and restitution from criminal defendants.

The office also handles and files a host of other records, including juvenile court records, financial statements from municipalities, bonds filed by tax collectors and constables, emancipations and expungements.

Byrnes said a defendant who needs to pay a fine for a minor infraction should be able to leave the courtroom, walk to the clerk of court's office and pay the fine on the spot. Currently, he said, York County doesn't have a system in place to allow that.

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Changes: Byrnes said a judge in the above scenario would have to send an order to the Clerk of Court's Office, and then the clerk's office would have to send a letter to the defendant at their home before the defendant could pay the fine.

The candidate also brought up what he described as more than $150 million in fines, court costs and civil penalties owed to York County, going back decades, that simply haven't been paid.

The office should go over the list of debtors in detail and identify those who have already died and whose debt will therefore never be collectible, Byrnes said, and then begin collecting viable debts at a manageable rate of payment.

Byrnes said he grew up in a household that valued service to others, including public service.

His mother, York County President Commissioner Susan Byrnes, said that he "could be a tremendous clerk of courts," and that as a combat veteran, her son's leadership is unquestionable.

"He will bring a full time work ethic," Susan Byrnes said. "He is an independent thinker, but he also will collaborate with others, with other row officers and also with the court."

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Dan Byrnes currently works as a project manager for Formit Steel, a metal fabrication company in Windsor Township, just northeast of Yoe.

He graduated from York Catholic High School and lives on a 20-acre farm in York Township with his fiancee, Katie Fitzpatrick, and their daughter, Charlotte.

Candidates: Former York County Clerk of Courts Don O'Shell announced in February that he would vacate his position early to take on a full-time director of staff position at the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

There are three other candidates for clerk of courts.

Barbato Arvonio, a former employee in the clerk's office under O'Shell, and Julie Haertsch, a former banker and state government employee, are running in the Republican primary.

The York County Republican Committee endorsed Haertsch ahead of the May 21 primary.

Democrat Stacey Duckworth, a health and wellness coach and small business owner, is also running for the position.