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Gordy Hulten Nominated as Champaign County Clerk, County Board Approval Still Needed

Champaign City Council member Gordy Hulten is poised to become the next county clerk after the county's GOP Central Committee chose him Monday night to replace Mark Shelden.

Shelden accepted a job offer last week to become the chief of staff for U.S. Congressman Tim Johnson (R-Urbana) after 13 years in office.

The two contenders up for the seat were Hulten and Deputy County Clerk John Farney. In an unexpected announcement at the meeting, Farney bowed out of his bid to replace Shelden as county clerk, paving the way for Hulten to take the post. Before he spoke, he passed out copies of his resume and touted his experience. Then, Farney tearfully urged members of the committee to support Hulten as county clerk, which they ended up doing.

"I love Champaign County," Farney said. "I love serving you, but the time is not right for me to become your county clerk, and I'm asking you to all support Gordy Hulten tonight. It's what we need to do as a party. It's what we need to do for better government here in Champaign County."

Farney said he liked his chances at grabbing the appointment, but made a decision early Monday to give up on his bid. He said he was not ready to sacrifice more time away from his family.

Hulten will likely take over for Shelden on Jan. 5, after the Champaign County Board votes on his appointment. He said a vote could happen as soon as Tuesday, Dec. 14 by the Policy, Personnel & Appointments Committee. A second vote by the full county board would then happen on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

Hulten said he is humbled by the appointment and added that he does not plan to make any immediate changes to the clerk's office.

"My first order of business is to get into the office and learn, not to go in and make changes," Hulten said. "The office is fantastically run now, so there's no real reason, there's no real motivation to make headlong changes."

The county clerk's term ends in two years until the next general election in 2012. Hulten said he plans he put up a vigorous campaign, so that he can stay in office.

Hulten said he will resign from the Champaign City Council soon, which will open up a search for his replacement. Champaign Mayor Jerry Schweighart said anyone interested in running for the seat will have a three week window to apply after Hulten's resignation. Schweighart said he was considering former city council members James Green and Vic McIntosh for the seat, but both have conflicts preventing them from returning to the council.

"Once the names are submitted, then the council will interview them, and then it'll take five votes of the council to appoint someone," Schweighart explained.

Before Hulten's nomination, he was considered a leading candidate to replace Jason Barickman as head of Champaign County's Republican Party. Barickman will be sworn as the State Representative of the 105th House District. He was appointed in November to fill the seat that will be left vacant by State Rep. Shane Cultra's (R-Onarga) appointment to State Treasurer-elect Dan Rutherford's senate seat.

Barickman said even after he is sworn into the Illinois General Assembly on Jan. 10, he plans to stay on as GOP chair.

"There was some discussion that Gordy as our vice-chairman may step up and serve as chairman, but that's no longer in the cards with him serving as our county clerk," Barickman said. "I intend to stay as the county chairman. That's the end of the discussion.

Categories: Government, Politics