Angel Colonneso’s life has come full circle since being named Manatee County’s first female Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller
Angel Colonneso has a hand in every major milestone in the lives of Manatee County residents.
If you get married, buy a home or suffer a death in the family, Angel is responsible for making sure every event is recorded.
As Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller for Manatee County, Angel and her staff of more than 275 people are responsible for performing nearly 1,000 constitutional and statutory functions, including recording life events, handling public safety issues and overseeing county spending.
“There’s a lot of personal responsibility and accountability that comes with this office, but I really enjoy being clerk,” says Angel. “I absolutely love my job. Not many people can say they’ve worked one job they love let alone two or three.”
A lifelong resident of Manatee County, Angel was officially sworn in as Manatee County’s first female clerk of the circuit court in September 2015 after spending two months serving as the interim clerk following the unexpected passing of long-term clerk R.B. “Chips” Shore, who held the post for 38 years.
After finishing her mentor’s term, Angel began her new four-year term in January 2017.
“It is kind of interesting,” says Angel of being the first female clerk of court of Manatee County. “There have only been 17 or 18 clerks of court, so I’m proud of that. It’s an interesting fact in this day and age.”
In a lot of ways, the Bradenton resident’s life has come full circle since assuming the role of clerk of court. As a child, Angel took a field trip to the Manatee County Courthouse, which only peaked her interest in criminal justice. That interest was further solidified in 1976 when Florida reinstated the death penalty.
At the time, her teachers incorporated current events into their curriculum and encouraged Angel and her classmates to read the news. As the capital punishment law went into effect, Angel began reading about criminal cases, which she would discuss with her history teacher, and from that point on she was determined to become a lawyer.
“I knew at 10 years old what I wanted to do,” says Angel.
In high school, Angel got a job working for Beall’s, but recognizing her passion for law, she decided the courthouse was where she needed to be.
While attending Manatee Community College and then the University of South Florida, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1991, Angel got a job working alongside Shore in the Manatee County Clerk’s Office.
“It was a way to get me into the system,” says Angel. “Networking wasn’t really heard of back them. When I think back on it, having gone through this journey, some of the judges that I clerked for then are still sitting on the bench. I’ve definitely come full circle.” Angel spent seven years working in the clerk’s office, assisting in the criminal and civil divisions, before heading to New England School of Law, in Boston, where she earned her Juris Doctor degree in 2000.
“I knew that I wanted to be a prosecutor someday,” says Angel. “When I left here, Mr. Shore was so supportive of me and always encouraged me along the way.”
Angel returned to Manatee County and worked for the State Attorney’s Office for 11 years before Shore offered her the opportunity to be the attorney for the clerk’s office in January 2012.
“I loved being a prosecutor, but it can be trying on you,” says Angel. “You see people everyday who have been victims of crime, and you want justice for them.”
As general counsel, Angel educated herself in all areas of the clerk’s office, including maintaining and archiving court records, serving as county auditor, overseeing the county’s five historical sites and operating a child support collection system, among other duties.
At the same time, Shore began grooming Angel to be his successor when he retired. A few years later, Angel received the promotion she hoped to have under different circumstances.
When she returned from lunch July 29, 2015, Angel learned Shore, who didn’t come in for two morning meetings, had passed away during the night. That afternoon, Angel was named the interim clerk.
“That was a trying time,” says Angel. “We were in a lot of shock as an office.”
In the years since, Angel has tried to follow in the footsteps of her mentor and build upon the legacy he left behind.
“He did a lot of leading by example,” says Angel. “He taught me how to think about people and treat people. When things get moving too fast, I catch myself stopping and thinking ‘What would he do?’ ‘How would he handle this?’ Overall when I approach things and people, I think about how Mr. Shore would do it. He really had a gift for that.”
Recently, Angel had a kiosk placed in the lobby to make it easier for residents to pay traffic and child support payments, and she also installed a property alert system, which will alert people to fraudulent liens on their property.
“I love trying to come up with new ideas and challenge myself to bring things to the community,” says Angel.
When she’s not hard at work, Angel enjoys the outdoors, working out, attending functions throughout the community and scrapbooking.