Eli Henderson, a 16-year veteran of the Calhoun County Commission, officially took his oath Friday as the county’s new circuit clerk in a ceremony at the auditorium at the Ken Joiner Calhoun County Administration Building.
Henderson was elected circuit clerk in 2012, narrowly beating challenger Missy Hall in a vote that eventually came down to a recount.
Henderson replaces long-serving Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks, who decided not to seek re-election in 2012. Hooks said Friday at the ceremony that Henderson has the special skills required to cope with the job, which he said often becomes the courthouse’s unofficial complaint department for the public.
“Eli has this magical way about him of getting people enthused and organized behind him,” Hooks said. “Keeping the morale up among his employees, I know he’s done that here, and that’s very important. It gets them motivated to do their job and help people.”
Dealing with people, and their complaints, has been the mainstay of his job for years, Henderson said.
“People are going to be the same, people don’t change,” Henderson said. “The problems they have might be in different areas, but we’ll listen to them and help with their problems.”
It’s one of the reasons Henderson said he wanted to leave his elected position on the commission to move down the street to the county courthouse. Henderson said he hopes to bring to the new job his years of experience in cooperative work with county officials.
“The key to the job is to never make enemies,” Henderson said. “Always listen and be willing to work together.”
Calhoun County Commission Chairman J.D. Hess said Henderson got off to an early start not making enemies.
During Henderson’s first year on the commission in 1994, Hess said, he recalled going into a meeting with a company and telling Henderson to remember to stand his ground and not move an inch.
“I said, ‘Eli, let’s go in there and run them down, make them know who’s in power,’” Hess said. “Well, we didn’t do that, and when we left the meeting, Eli said to me, ‘I guess we showed them who’s in power.’”
Hess said “let’s show them who’s in power” became a running joke between the two commissioners.
But it was a great way to deal with the public, said Fred Wilson, the newest member of the commission, who worked with Henderson for the last few months.
“He was very attentive to his area,” Wilson said. “He always took care of all his people. That’s what impressed me the most about him.”
Henderson’s first day in office will be Monday. The commission plans to honor Henderson for his service at its next meeting Jan. 24.
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.