Macomb County has a new clerk, for now.
The county’s circuit court judges unanimously picked longtime county employee Kathy Smith to temporarily head the clerk’s office Monday.
Smith steps in on an interim basis to replace Karen Spranger, who was removed from office in March after a judge found she likely lied about living in Macomb County when she filed to run for office.
Another county employee, Kathy Brower, was appointed acting clerk immediately after Spranger’s removal. Brower withdrew her name from consideration to continue in that position last week.
“I’ve worked here 34 years. I’ve worked with everyone in the department,” said Smith, who most recently worked as a judicial secretary. “We’ve got a great group of people here. I just want to keep it going for the next elected official.”
Smith will head the office until voters elect a new clerk to fill out the remainder of Spranger's term November. 17 people, not including Smith, have filed to run for the job.
“We’ve got great people here, wonderful staff,” Smith said. “It should be very easy just getting it back where they need to be.”
The Macomb clerk’s office was plagued by backlogs of everything from court filings to vital records that accumulated during Spranger’s chaotic 15 months in office. However, the court administrator's office says the court filings backlog has already largely been cleared, while smaller backlogs remain in other area, including entries into Michigan's Law Enforcement Information System (LEIN).
Listen above to a conversation between Michgan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and reporter Sarah Cwiek about the ousting of Karen Spranger, and the controversies that led to selecting an interim Macomb County clerk.
Updated 5/7/18 at 4:50 pm: An initial version of this story incorrectly stated that the new Macomb clerk elected in November will serve a four-year term. That person will serve out the remaining two years of Spranger's term. The story was also updated to add current information about the status of the records backlog in the clerk's office.