With McDuffie County Probate Judge Gene Wells retiring at the end of the year, the question had been posed as to how the remaining two years of his term would be filled. An answer came from the Secretary of State's office late last week.
Judge Wells will appoint Valerie Burley, his chief clerk, to fill the unexpired term. At the end of that term the regular election for the position will be held.
"There won't be a special election. There will just be the regular election in '08," said McDuffie County Elections Superintendent Phyllis Wheeler. "And then if she so decides, she can run that July."
The ruling eliminates the need for a special election that could have been costly for the county. According to Judge Wells, it ensures that the person with the most experience will get the job in the meantime.
"If they want somebody that already knows the job, I think she's the best one," he said. "...It sure did make me happy."
Ms. Burley has served as clerk to Judge Wells for the past 18 years. She will take office in January 2007.
In January of this year, The Mirror reported on Judge Wells' plans to retire at the end of 2006. He has served as Probate Court Judge since 1989. A heart attack last August prompted the retirement plans for the former law enforcement officer.