Longtime DuPage County Clerk Gary King says he won't pursue another term and instead is endorsing his chief deputy clerk's bid to succeed him.
King, who has served as county clerk since 1986, said he recently made the final decision not to seek re-election in the March Republican primary. He came to that conclusion after thinking about retirement and discussing the topic with his wife "for quite some time."
"We've got the grandchildren," said King, who will turn 67 in November. "We've got things going on all the time. So I'll find something to do."
Before stepping down when his existing term ends in December 2014, King first wants to help Paul Hinds get elected to the county clerk position.
"He certainly deserves it," King said.
Hinds, who has been the chief deputy clerk since 2001, said one of his goals has been to become the county clerk. Still, he says, it was bittersweet to learn about King's retirement plans.
"He could have stayed as long as he wanted," said Hinds, 52, of Villa Park. "He's done a great job, and he's certainly been a mentor to me. I've learned a lot from Gary King."
The clerk's office sends out property tax bills and handles other documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses and death certificates.
King started in the department as a clerk in 1967 and worked his way up until he was named chief deputy clerk in 1980. After getting the top job in 1986, King kept it with a string of elections victories.
Now King says Hinds reminds him of himself.
"He's a young me," King said. "He knows everything that we do. He's pretty much running the day-to-day operations of the office now."
Hinds began his career at the clerk's office in September 1995, when he was hired as a tax revenue specialist. He said there have been many changes made to the department during that time.
King says Hinds is "perfect" for the county clerk position since he was part of the office as it evolved into what it is now. "It will be seamless if he takes over, because we've done everything together." King said.
Hinds' campaign will begin Friday with a letter to all the chairmen of the Republican township organizations. The next step will be to get his name on the March ballot.
Tuesday is the first day candidates can start circulating their petitions. Hinds must get 1,449 signatures from registered voters who also are self-described Republicans. The first day to file nominating petitions is Nov. 25.
King said he hopes Hinds doesn't face a challenger in the GOP primary. It is possible a Democratic opponent will emerge for the fall 2014 election.
If Hinds win, he said he will resign from his position as a trustee on the York Township board. He has held that elected post since 1993.
"If I'm going to be the county clerk, I'm going to be the county clerk," he said. "I'm not going to be a township trustee also."
King is the only countywide elected official not seeking another term. County board Chairman Dan Cronin, Treasurer Gwen Henry, Sheriff John Zaruba and Regional Superintendent of Schools Darlene Ruscitti all are expected to make re-election bids.