If embattled Sebastian County Circuit Clerk Ken Blevins survives a GOP primary contest, he’ll face one of his employees on the November 2012 ballot.
Chief Deputy Circuit Clerk Kathy Guthrie, a 14-year veteran of the office, announced Thursday (Dec. 29) she will seek the office as a Democrat.
“People don’t really know what the County Circuit Clerk’s office does until they have a crisis, but it’s very important,” Guthrie said in a statement. “The office needs a clerk with the right skill set to do the job effectively.”
According to Guthrie’s statement, the Circuit Clerk’s office “manages and maintains all records for the courts system including probate, juvenile, criminal, civil and domestic relations.”
Blevins, a Republican who recently placed 95th on the eBossWatch list of “America’s Worst Bosses 2011,” recently faced a contempt of court charge and possible arrest, but finally agreed to allow employees Tyanna Caldwell and Cassie Vega to return to work in the clerk’s office.
Blevins fired Caldwell and Vega on Nov. 16, but a grievance committee ruled Dec. 7 that he did not have cause to fire them. A subsequent order from Sebastian County Judge David Hudson required Blevins to allow the two employees to return to their jobs. Blevins refused and had a Sebastian County Sheriff’s deputy escort the women out of the office. Blevins later allowed the women to work.
Also, Blevins is being sued in U.S. District Court by Jean Austin, Tyanna Caldwell and Lynsey Shockley. Fort Smith attorney David Dunagin, who represents the plaintiffs, said Blevins is being sued for sexual harassment, defamation and creating a hostile work environment. Austin, Caldwell and Shockley earlier this year alleged that Blevins sexually harassed them. On May 12, a three-member Sebastian County grievance committee ruled that Blevins sexually harassed office employees and created a hostile work environment.
Guthrie was the courts deputy/IT person prior to working as chief deputy. In her courts deputy role, she helped She manage purchasing, scheduling and the registry of the court funds. Guthrie also served as the office’s liaison with the county’s computer Information Systems Department for most of her 14 years with the county.
“At the office, I have received so many phone calls from people who’ve been bounced and redirected from one office to another as they try to obtain information,” Guthrie shares. “I want to help citizens get the information they need more easily and effectively.”
Other goals for the office would be the improvement and redirection of morale, efficiency and focus, noted Guthrie’s announcement.
Guthrie is married, with three children and one grandchild. She graduated from Southside High School.