JONESBORO — Lesli Penny was appointed Monday to serve as Craighead County clerk until December 2022.
“I feel like I’ve been led to this position,” Penny said Tuesday. “I feel like I have been called to stand, and I have tried to hold to what I feel I am being called to do.”
Penny, 62, will serve as county clerk for the remainder of former clerk Kade Holliday’s term. She will not be eligible to run for the office in 2022.
Penny was approved unanimously by the quorum court after the Craighead County Public Service Committee narrowed down the field of applicants from nine to three after a meeting that included an executive session on July 22.
Then on July 23 the committee met again to interview the final three candidates. From that meeting, Penny emerged as the public service committee’s choice for the job.
County Judge Marvin Day swore her into office Monday following the quorum court meeting.
Penny was a deputy county clerk in the county clerk’s office prior to being named county clerk. She has worked in the county clerk’s office since 2010.
Prior to that, she was a deputy circuit clerk from 2005 until 2010.
“Seeking elected office is not something I would ever do,” Penny said, “but I feel like I was led to do this. It’s been very emotional, and I’ve dealt with a lot of different feelings.”
Holliday resigned and was removed from office following his June 29 arrest on charges he stole almost $1.6 million in taxpayer money.
“We’ve had a few hard weeks to get through,” she said. “It was something none of us had any idea of.”
Penny resides in Jonesboro with her husband, Stephen, who is a retired Navy veteran. They have two grown children —daughter Amy who lives in Bentonville, and son Matthew who is attending Asbury Theologial Seminary in Lexington, Ky.
Penny said the first order of business for the county clerk’s office is hiring three new clerks. “We need to hire some people,” she said. Applicants should contact the county human resources office to apply.
“Other than that, we want to continue to maintain the day-to-day operations of the office,” Penny said.
On Aug. 3, the county equalization board meets for the first time, and early voting in the Jonesboro School District special election begins Aug. 4.
The filing period for the November municipal races will begin next week on Aug. 5, and the clerk’s office is responsible for preparing ballots for the general election, so there is plenty to keep them busy in the coming weeks, Penny said.
“I’m praying we find the right folks, and get them in here,” she said. “They need to be flexible and willing to learn.”
After the 2022 election, Penny said she will have to wait and see if she still has a job the following January.
“Who knows what is ahead of me? There are no guarantees, the job has always been term to term.” she said. “I have worked for a lot of different people.”