ALEXANDRIA – The Alexandria clerk-treasurer’s office may have a replacement after all for Democrat Jill Scott, who plans to step down at the end of the year.
Republican Christina Long, who has lived in Alexandria for 49 of her 50 years, filed Tuesday to run for the position in the Nov. 5 election. Darcy VanErman, 42, wife of City Councilman Jeremy VanErman, filed Wednesday.
“I’m glad to see people stepping forward. We want to provide qualified candidates, and I believe we are doing that,” said Madison County Republican Chairman Russ Willis.
A closed caucus to select the party’s candidate is scheduled at 7 p.m. June 27.
Madison County Democratic Chair Ludy Watkins said she doesn’t believe a Republican candidate will run unopposed.
“I think we’ve found somebody but I’m not at liberty to say right now,” she said.
Scott confirmed in May her plans to step down from her office by Dec. 30 because of what she perceived as micromanagement by the city’s Board of Works and City Council.
In a show of bipartisan support, Alexandria’s Democratic Mayor Ron Richardson on Tuesday took to Facebook to wish Long, a political newcomer, luck for throwing her hat into the ring.
“Best Wishes to Christina Long for being brave and stepping up and putting her name in the hat to run and serve as Alexandria's next Clerk Treasurer,” he wrote.
Two years ago, Scott replaced Amie Hood, who was in the position for a month after being caucused in following the forced resignation of Janet M. Lynch. Officials said Lynch had left the books in such disarray, the city appeared to be more than $200,000 in debt.
A pharmacy technician by trade, Long admitted she doesn’t have any experience in finance and bookkeeping but was urged over the past month by her family to file. She said she believes she can count on some assistance from her brother, who is a certified public accountant.
“I’m responsible for all the pharmaceuticals that come into the pharmacy and all the pharmaceuticals that go out,” the inventory specialist said. “I’m dedicated. I’m willing to learn. It’s important to me to do a good job. I’m ready to try something new.”
Long’s father, Chester Long, was a longtime owner of an Alexandria pharmacy. She worked there for about 16 years.
Long, who is single, now works for a pharmacy in Anderson.
“It’s not exactly my wheelhouse, but I’m excited to try it,” the political newcomer said of becoming clerk-treasurer. She already has visited with other clerk-treasurers to get a feel for what the position entails.
Chester Long, who died about 10 years ago, was one of the founders of the annual Alexandria Care Day, and Long said running for office is a public duty.
“He’s my inspiration. It was important for him to give back to the community,” she said. “Of course, the clerk-treasurer’s office was a good way for me to do that.”
Long said she also wanted to run because she takes pride in coming from Alexandria.
“I have a college degree. I could have moved away, but I stayed here,” she said.
VanErman comes to the campaign with some political experience as a former precinct committee person and as a consultant under former Alexandria mayors: Republican Jack Woods and his predecessor, Democrat Steve Skaggs. In that capacity, she said, she also worked closely with Lynch when she was clerk-treasurer.
“Because I have already been into the trenches as an employee, as a contractor, I’ve already had to work in the process and work in the governance and understand the flow between the mayor’s office and the clerk-treasurer’s office and the city council,” she said.
Less than a month ago, VanErman said this was not the time for her to run for political office because she was too busy raising her family.
However, when she learned Scott was adamant about not running for the post, VanErman said she decided to seek the candidacy. She said she had wanted to respect the office and acknowledged Scott was doing a good job.
“I feel I would be a fool to think I would be the only one in this town that could do this job,” she said. “Really, when I found out that Jill really had no interest in staying in office, I felt it was a green light. It was time.”
VanErman said she would bring a fresh eye and experienced hands to the clerk-treasurer’s office.
Anyone of any party wanting to oppose the GOP candidate for Alexandria city clerk in the November election will need to file their notice of candidacy by July 1.
Residents also have the option through July 3 of writing in a candidate. That would require a form signed before a notary public and filed with the election commission.