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Councilman to replace his dad as county clerk

Donald Blevins Jr. was appointed Fayette County Clerk on Tuesday, replacing his father, Don Blevins, who has held the job for 27 years.

Blevins Jr., Urban County councilman for the 10th district, will assume his new position on Jan. 1.

Blevins Jr., 46, said he will talk to Mayor Jim Newberry in the next few days about naming an individual to replace him on council.

Blevins Jr. will serve the remainder of his father's four-year term, which expires Jan. 3, 2011. The next election for county clerk will be in November of 2010.

Don Blevins Sr.'s salary is $100,456. The new county clerk will start at $87,238. "The second year they're paid a little bit more, the third year a little bit more. In the fourth year they are paid the max they can ever draw," Don Blevins said.

In announcing the appointment, Fayette County Judge-Executive Sandra Varellas said several people applied for the job, but she cited Blevins Jr.'s background in computers, technology and management roles that made him the strongest candidate.

She described him as a problem-solver with a "high intellect."

"He is not afraid to take a strong stand on issues. It may not be the most popular, but he does what he thinks is right," she said.

Varellas received many e-mails and telephone calls supporting Blevins Jr. The major concern expressed was the loss to the Urban County Council if he were to become clerk.

"I did not receive one negative comment about Don Jr.," she said.

Some people questioned whether he should be considered because he is the current clerk's son. "I did not think he should be disqualified because of that," Varellas said. She said he would "follow in his dad's footsteps with no problems whatsoever."

She thanked Don Blevins, 71, for his 35 years of service to Fayette County. Varellas had been asked if the clerk's position was a part-time job. "Don made the job look so easy, people don't realize what a difficult job it is," she said.

One piece of father-to-son advice was to maintain fair hiring practices, which has contributed to low staff turnover. "We hire on the basis of what people know, not who they know," Blevins said.

He added that he was "pleased as punch" that his son would be his successor.

Before becoming clerk, Blevins Sr. served eight years on the Urban County Council — two terms representing the 10th district, the same as his son, and one term as councilman-at-large.

Blevins Jr. said the county clerk's office has a "stellar" reputation throughout the state. A classic management misstep, he said, is to "come in and make changes on day one. I will not do that."

The immediate challenge, Blevins Jr. said, is to become thoroughly familiar with areas such as election laws — because the clerk's office oversees local elections — collecting delinquent taxes and issuing vehicle titles.