Henderson, 75, a Republican from Wellborn, narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent, Missy Hall, 39, of Oxford by about 120 votes. The seat was left open after Ted Hooks announced last year that he would not seek re-election to the post. Henderson has served the last 19 years as a county commissioner.
“I was really shocked it was so close,” Henderson said. “She ran a heck of a race … she out-worked me in this campaign.”
Henderson said he expects to continue serving as county commissioner until he’s sworn into office as circuit clerk in January. The governor will have to appoint someone to fill Henderson’s commission seat, he said.
“We’ll get somebody good in there,” Henderson said. “I’ll be glad to share my experience.”
Henderson, who has never held a position in the court system, touted his political connections as a reason to elect him. Henderson has said the connections he has developed with legislators over the last 19 years will help him acquire more money for the circuit clerk’s office, which is currently suffering from significant state budget cuts.
The circuit clerk is the chief administrative officer of the court system in the county and is in charge of all the money going in and out of the courts; that person is also in charge of summoning, organizing and paying jurors. In addition, the circuit clerk is the official custodian of court records, oversees the issuing of warrants in district court, handles payments of all traffic tickets, handles lawsuits more than $10,000, handles the filing of court motions and handles alimony payments and divorce filings.
Hall, a legal assistant who previously worked nine years as an assistant for former Calhoun County Circuit Clerk Joel Laird, pushed her experience in the court system as a reason she should be elected.
Hall said she was disappointed with the final result, but was proud of her performance in the election.
“I did everything I could possibly do to win this race,” Hall said. “I want to thank all my supporters. They were wonderful.”
Once in office, Henderson will have all of Hooks’ previous responsibilities, except processing absentee ballots. Voters strongly approved a local state constitutional amendment Tuesday that transferred responsibility for absentee ballots to the Calhoun County Commission. Under previous law, the circuit clerk was entitled to collect $175 for each day he or she handled absentee ballot collections. The new law is expected to save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars each year.
Henderson said he did not have much to say about the amendment decision other than he thought absentee ballots should stay with the circuit clerk’s office.
“It’d be good if we had it all under the same roof,” Henderson said of the absentee ballots.
Henderson added that he appreciated all the help from his supporters.
“I’m just excited and lucky to win this election,” he said.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.