On March 13, voters will choose a nominee between Tina Walker, 48, of Ohatchee and current Calhoun County Commissioner Eli Henderson, 75, of Wellborn, on the Republican ticket. Missy Hall, 39, of Oxford is unopposed and will be the Democratic nominee. Current Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks decided last year that he would not seek re-election.
The circuit clerk heads the chief administrative office of the court system, accounts for all the money going in and out of the courts and is 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.
The Calhoun County Circuit Clerk salary starts at about $69,000 a year and increases incrementally based on years of service.
Tina Walker has already worked in every division of the Calhoun County Circuit Clerk’s office. She decided it was time to give the circuit clerk job itself a try.
Walker retired from the clerk’s office in April after working 25 years there.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” Walker said about running for circuit clerk. “But I didn’t want to do it until I retired.”
To Walker, the main issue facing the clerk’s office is budget cuts from the state last year, which resulted in several layoffs. Walker said her extensive experience in the office could help ease the burden from those cuts.
“I’ve worked all the divisions and I have the experience to go back,” Walker said. “And with the shortage of people, I can help with the workload.”
Walker said she did not expect to make any changes to the operation of the office.
“They are just so short on staff — I’ll be able to assist and get the workload done,” she said.
A graduate of Oxford High School, Walker started working at the circuit clerk’s office when she was 23 years old and since then has worked for three different circuit clerks.
To Eli Henderson, when it comes to being a successful circuit clerk, it is all about who you know. Henderson sees the circuit clerk’s lack of state funding as its main issue and says political know-how is needed to fix the problem.
“You need a polished, professional politician over there,” Henderson said. “I’m good at that.”
He said a good politician would have a better chance at obtaining extra money for the circuit clerk’s office.
“It’s all about who you know,” Henderson said. “Particularly if you get funding … you need someone political to make that happen.”
Henderson has been a county commissioner for the last 18 years, but decided to run for circuit clerk after receiving requests.
“Ted Hooks talked me into this, he asked me to run,” Henderson said. “And three other judges asked me to get involved.”
If Henderson becomes circuit clerk, he would have to vacate his County Commission seat.
Missy Hall wants to bring change to the Calhoun County Circuit Clerk’s office, such as by ensuring it remains open five days a week. The office was forced to close on Fridays for several months last year due to state budget cutbacks and layoffs.
“We can put some things in place … some time management,” Hall said. “People have a right to get in there.”
Hall said she has wanted to be the circuit clerk and serve the public for some time.
“I’m running because it is a position I’ve always been interested in,” she said. “People who come into the circuit’s clerk office usually don’t understand the system. I want to make it an easier process for them.”
Hall said she has the experience to be a circuit clerk due to her nine years working as an assistant for former Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Joel Laird.