Governor's office has delegation's recommendation for clerk

Despite a plea from local legislators, it will be at least Wednesday before Gov. Mark Sanford chooses an interim clerk of court to replace Elizabeth Smith, according to the governor's spokesman.

Smith resigned last week after being charged with embezzlement.

State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, faxed a letter Friday to Sanford recommending as interim clerk Jerri Ann Roseneau of Beaufort, an assistant to attorney Ladson Howell at the Lady's Island firm of Howell, Gibson and Hughes.

Herbkersman said he and state Sen. Tom Davis and state Rep. Shannon Erickson, both Beaufort Republicans, nominated Roseneau in the hopes the governor would appoint her on Monday.

"We have received the letter," said Joel Sawyer, Sanford's spokesman. "Our plan right now is to not act until the governor returns" from vacation. Sanford is expected to return from a European vacation on Wednesday.

Until an appointment is made, Beaufort County Probate Court Judge Francis Simon is in charge of the clerk's office.

In his first remarks to the staff since assuming the clerk's duties Friday, the judge said Monday that nothing would derail the office's primary responsibility of serving the public.

"While the present situation is indeed sad and unfortunate, and not something any good-thinking person would want to see, it is what it is," Simon said in a written statement. "We will deal with it. Working as a team, we will get the job done efficiently and properly, fulfilling our role as dedicated public servants."

Simon, a Hilton Head Island resident who has presided over county Probate Court since 1994, took over for Smith the day after she resigned. She resigned an hour or so before 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffy Stone announced Thursday she had been indicted by a Beaufort County grand jury on allegations of embezzling public funds and misconduct in office.

While Beaufort County legislators await word on who will replace Smith temporarily, two of her former opponents are considering whether to again seek the clerk post.

Randy "Radar" Caulder, 48, a Beaufort private investigator and former Marine, and Warren Alston, 47, an Okatie insurance agent and former policeman, said Monday they were mulling second runs.

"At this point, I'm undecided," Alston said. "I need to find out some more information. I'm not sure when the deadline to file is."

Caulder said he was leaning toward running and said a final decision on his candidacy would be made within a week.

Caulder and Alston were defeated by Smith, then a two-term incumbent, in the 2008 Republican primary. Each man got about 16 percent of the vote.

If Caulder and Alston decide to run for clerk of court, a primary would be held Oct. 13, according to state law. The same statute also requires that the county hold a special election to elect a new clerk of court on the 18th Tuesday following Smith's resignation, putting the special election on Dec. 1.

Both men said they would like to be considered by Sanford for interim clerk of court. But Caulder also said he didn't think the interim clerk should be allowed to run in December.

"The interim clerk should be a caretaker only and should not be allowed to run because that would suggest that there was some political influence involved," Caulder said.

No state law prevents whomever Sanford appoints as interim clerk from running for election to the office.