CHAMPAIGN — An influential Republican precinct committeeman has endorsed Katie Malone Blakeman over Stephanie Holderfield for the Republican nomination for Champaign County circuit clerk.
The county's 76 GOP precinct committeemen will meet Thursday night to choose the Republican candidate for circuit clerk against Democrat Barbara Wysocki.
Rick Winkel, whom Republican voters elected the GOP nominee at the March 20 primary election, has said that he will decline the nomination. Holderfield finished second to Winkel in the primary voting.
But Mark Shelden, a former county clerk and now the chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, wrote Monday that he believed that Blakeman's "experience in management, customer service, database technology, and records management make her the strongest person to lead the circuit clerk's office."
Blakeman, 32, is assistant director of development at the University of Illinois' division of student affairs.
Shelden emailed other Republicans to announce his support for Blakeman.
"I know first hand the challenges of dealing with the county's IT systems and believe that Katie's hands on experience with the nuts and bolts of database management will provide her the tools to work with technology aspects of the job," he said. "Holding a similar role in document management, I know that Katie has the necessary skills to bring document management within the court system to the next level. And having myself dealt with hundreds of thousands of customers, I see in Katie the characteristics that I value in dealing with the public; friendliness and integrity.
"Perhaps most important though, for my endorsement, is my belief that being a county official requires first and foremost that one be a good listener with a collaborative spirit. I think that those who witnessed what I was able to accomplish in 14 years in office would generally agree that many good things happened. If you talked to me about those, or heard me speak, you know that I rarely failed to mention that they were the product of me working with my staff, other departments, voters, other counties, and anyone who brought a good idea to me. It's just impossible to do the job of county clerk, or circuit clerk, without working with others to achieve goals that serve the community."
Shelden avoided mentioning Holderfield in his message, except to say that he hoped that both she and Sami Anderson, a local attorney who was assessing whether to apply for the nomination, "will continue to be involved" with the local Republican party.
Holderfield said she still believed she would win the party's support at Thursday's meeting.
"I'm going to stand on the fact that 250 people signed my petition, I campaigned for 10 months and 7,888 voters voted for me" at the primary election, she said. "I'm very confident that the precinct committeemen will recognize that there is a candidate who actually was on the ballot and so I feel confident that regardless of Mark Shelden's endorsement, the precinct committeemen understand that I've worked very, very hard. I was in it from the start."
Holderfield said she has been endorsed by county Coroner Duane Northrup, who sent a letter on her behalf.
Holderfield, 50, submitted her official application for the post on Monday. In it she said she has experience in database and web technology, and that "public service, managerial experience and customer relations are my strong points."
"I have been told and believe that I am a high energy person, which is useful in focusing on all aspects of the position I am seeking," she wrote. "My strong work ethic coupled with innovation and collaboration would make this position an ideal fit for me and the citizens of Champaign County.