County clerk's employee seeks to become his successor

County clerk's employee seeks to become his successor

URBANA — An Urbana native who directs training at the Champaign County Clerk's Office is the first announced candidate to replace the current clerk, who has decided to run for county executive.

Matt Grandone, 37, said Wednesday that he wants to succeed Gordy Hulten as county clerk. Hulten announced earlier this week that he would run to be the first county executive.

Both the county clerk and county executive will be elected in November 2018.

"These past three years serving the voters of Champaign County have been the most rewarding of my career," said Grandone, a Republican who graduated from Urbana High School and Illinois Wesleyan University. "Our work to improve services, increase efficiency, comply with mandates while protecting the integrity of our elections has been challenging and rewarding.

"I will continue our office's focus on providing a high level of customer service, whether it be through the voting experience on Election Day or making it as convenient as possible for citizens to access their vital records. I hope to continue to improve on the levels of service that our customers have grown to expect."

No other Republicans or Democrats have announced an interest in the county clerk position, which will pay $93,781 a year until Dec. 1, 2020, when the salary will increase to $95,656 annually. A year later, it will increase to $97,569.

Maryam Ar-Raheem, the chairman of the county Democratic Party, said Wednesday that there will be Democratic candidates for the countywide positions up for election next year: sheriff, county executive, county clerk, county treasurer and possibly county auditor.

The current auditor, John Farney, said Tuesday that he will seek to be appointed county treasurer after the current officeholder, Dan Welch, leaves the position in December.

"I think most people are going to announce after Labor Day," Ar-Raheeem said. "Some people might be announcing at the Labor Day picnic. I'm not at liberty to say anything yet.

"But Democrats are interested in these races and are planning to run."

Grandone begins his race for the Republican nomination for county clerk with the backing of Hulten.

"Matt's leadership in our office has been incredibly valuable," Hulten said. "These past years have been among the most challenging for us, with massive new state mandates and scarce resources. Matt has led the effort to expand our early voting options and led the training for our election judges to provide Election Day voter registration countywide.

"I have every confidence that Matt will be an excellent candidate and will be the best county clerk in Illinois."

Before his time in the clerk's office, Grandone worked 10 years in the substance use and mental health field for nonprofit Bloomington-based Chestnut Health Systems. He finished his tenure managing grants funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

"Working in the nonprofit field, where most of the funding comes from grants, actually prepared me for some of the challenges we face on a regular basis in the public sector, and that is, how we can continue to provide the best service possible without increasing costs," he said.

Grandone lives in Urbana with his wife, Jackie, and their two boys.

He is scheduled to formally announce his candidacy at 10 a.m. today at his boyhood home at 301 W. Delaware Ave., Urbana.

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