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Champaign County Clerk Leaving Office to Work for U.S. Rep. Johnson

Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden is leaving his office to join the staff of Congressman Tim Johnson (R-Urbana).

Next month, Shelden will take over for Johnson Chief of Staff Jerry Clarke, who's going to work for Congressman-elect Randy Hultgren of Winfield. The 46-year-old Shelden has been in the office for 13 years. Shelden says Johnson approached him about the job earlier in the week, after learning his current chief of staff was leaving.

"The way things work in the legislative process is so much different than it works in an executive department," Shelden said. "I think there will be times when I'll be a little frustrated about the slow movement of things, and good ideas you want to get done. So there will be a change from that standpoint."

Republican Precinct Committeemen will meet Monday to begin the process of naming a replacement. Shelden said he will not be endorsing anyone, but will talk to anyone interested in the job.

"I want an open process that looks for the many good candidates that we've got, and tries to find somebody who can do this job well and hopefully maintain this office in a way that I'm proud of," he said.

Shelden said he is excited about tackling new issues, but having worked as a policy analyst in Springfield, he's familiar with the legislative process. Shelden said he expects his successor will be appointed by the Champaign County Board in early January, but Champaign County GOP Chair Jason Barickman said it is possible that person will be named by Monday night. The appointed clerk, who would be sworn in by the Champaign County Board in early January when Shelden resigns, would fill the term for two years until the 2012 election.

"I presume people will look at whether or not someone is a Republican," he said. "I think from there Mark has run such a terrific, professional office. Some of the qualifications would probably be who is the person who is electable who in addition to replacing Mark, will run a great, quality office."

Shelden said he was appointed to the office much the same way in April 1997.

"The public needs to remember that we just have an fantastic staff," he said. "Part of my legacy is hiring good people that have run good elections. The first goal of the new county clerk will be to make sure that they are wise enough to lean on the collective skills and talents of those people to get through the next couple of elections.

Categories: Government, Politics