After a long career with the county, Sebastian County Circuit Clerk Denora Coomer has decided to give retirement a try. Coomer, a Republican, submitted her resignation letter to Sebastian County Judge David Hudson Oct. 20, saying “at the ages of 80 and 70, respectively, my husband and I are preparing to work on our ‘bucket list’ while we are still able.”
Coomer’s resignation is effective Dec. 31. She has served as the circuit clerk for eight years and served as the court administrator for 29. She said she is grateful to Sebastian County for her career and it has been an honor and privilege to serve the county and its residents. Coomer said she had always thought 70 would be a good time to step away from the courthouse. In all her time working for the county, the clerk’s position had been a two year term.
She watched attempts be made by the state legislature to make all the elected offices four-year terms but always thought the attempts would fail, she said. But the change did pass, and in 2017, circuit clerk terms became four-year terms.
“I thought I would do the four years,” Coomer said. “But in September, we decided this was the right time to do this.”
Coomer defeated Ken Blevins in the May 2012 GOP primary with 65% of the vote, ending a term by Blevins that included numerous sexual harassment accusations and lawsuits against Blevins.
She said she hopes she and her husband will get to some things on that bucket list. With their children and grandchildren living in Northwest Arkansas, Coomer said she sees a move in their future. Their house here needs some work first though, she said. She expects it will take six to eight months to get the house ready to sell. When it’s ready, the couple plan to live at their lake house at Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma.
“We’ll stay there for a couple of months until we get bored there,” she said. “Then we’ll probably move to Northwest Arkansas.”
The couple also enjoys traveling and hope to take more road trips, see more of the country and visit friends, if “COVID” ever ends, she said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic that has limited travel and visits for many across the world in 2020.
“I think it would be nice to sleep in, to wake up at 7 (a.m.) instead of 5:30 or 6. See what that feels like,” she said.
In her resignation letter, Coomer recommended Cindy Gilmer, the chief deputy circuit clerk, be allowed to fill her term. She said Gilmer had worked for the circuit clerk’s office for 33 years and was the circuit clerk for one term. Gilmer ran in 2010 as a Democrat for the circuit clerk post.
“Her experience and knowledge are unsurpassed. She is a great asset to the office,” she said.
The circuit clerk manages operations for six Circuit Judges for the operation of the circuit courts in Fort Smith and Greenwood. The clerk also is tasked to provide accurate records to the public of court proceedings, maintain records, and ensure the orderly flow of paperwork through the various divisions of circuit court. Primary duties include filing, docketing, attending court, issuing of notices, records management, and the reporting of various statistical information to the Administrative Office of the Courts. The clerk also prepares a list of prospective jurors, docket cases of the respective courts, issue summonses, subpoenas, writs and warrants related to each case, attend court and swear witnesses.
Hudson said that Circuit Judge Steven Tabor also recommends Gilmer for the position.
“I concur and also recommend Cindy Gilmer be appointed,” Hudson said.
The Sebastian County Quorum Court will make the appointment to fill the remainder of the term by resolution, he said. No special election will be required. Coomer said she hopes she has served the county well during her tenure.
“I’ve known a lot of judges come and go over the years. I loved them all,” Coomer said. “I have enjoyed having a career with Sebastian County. It really has been wonderful. The county has been good to me. I hope I have been good to the county.”