FAYETTEVILLE — When the Fayette County Courthouse doors swing closed at the end of calendar year 2019, Kelvin Holliday's years in public service will come to an end.
Holliday, concluding his 27th year as Fayette County clerk, will leave office on Dec. 31. He served as deputy clerk to Howard Janney for six months before being elected for the first time in 1992, and he is currently in the middle of his fifth sixth-year term.
In leaving office at the end of 2019, Holliday will "leave three (years) on the table, two of which will be filled by the voters. That was one of my main factors by resigning by year's end."
Holliday said he's at a stage in his life where he needs to spend more time with his family (wife Betty, daughter Amy and son Matt), who are "an important part of my life." Also, Holliday, 62, intends to increase the hours he volunteers for church- and community-related organizations and activities.
"It's time," said Holliday. "God gave me a clear directive that I'm to do more things in my life for Him.
"I have a plate full of things going on now, and I hope to expand upon them in retirement."
Among his laundry list of things to do is being more active in his church, Emmanuel Baptist in Fayetteville, said Holliday. He also aims to continue volunteering with two after-school Bible clubs and Read Aloud. "I definitely intend to stay young by hanging around young people."
The Fayette County Commission will soon appoint a replacement to fill Holliday's job until someone is chosen by voters in the general election of 2020. That general election winner will fill out the remainder of the term.
His final day will be Dec. 31. "I do intend to work to the very last day of my term," said Holliday. "I want to finish strong."
After voters choose a new clerk in the Nov. 3, 2020, general election, the clerk's full six-year term will be back in play during the 2022 election.
The clerk's position will appear on both primary and general election ballots next year.
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Holliday worked from 1986-91 as a district representative for Congressman Harley Staggers Jr. He resigned that post to run for the county clerk's spot. Prior to that, he worked in the newspaper industry for a family-owned operation that included The Fayette Tribune.
"As soon as I learned how to type in the seventh grade, the year that I turned 13, I was typing and doing sports stories for the newspaper," said Holliday, who was sports editor through his high school years.
He eventually turned to the life of a public servant, though.
"Dad (longtime legislator Robert K. Holliday) first was elected to the House of Delegates in 1962, before I was 5," said the younger Holliday. "Naturally it's been in my blood ever since.
"I desire to serve." Since the county clerk's office is not specifically court-related, "Basically I was providing service in just about every situation," he said.
The only part of the job he disliked to a degree was probate, which at times involves family members in dispute over assets when there is a death in the family. "That's a very tough part of the job."
In addition to preparing certificates for people, Holliday said he embraced particularly his office's voter registration outreach efforts with local high schools.
"Working with high school students and the secretary of state's office in registering our high school seniors to vote has been the highlight for me in my years in office," said Holliday. "We regularly lead in getting our schools the Jennings Randolph Award (charting schools in eligible students registering to vote)." With Meadow Bridge High, in particular, he documented 26 of 27 years the school had 100 percent of its senior class members registered to vote.
Holliday said the clerk's office has evolved in the past 25-plus years. "We have had numerous election changes since I've been here. In fact, when I first started, the circuit clerk's office handled the early part of the elections (absentee voting, etc.)." That is now handled by the county clerk.
"Elections have been my favorite part of the office," said Holliday. "We've had several different voting systems (punch cards, optical scan voting, iVotronic)." A new system introduced in 2018 and now in use offers "the best of both worlds," he said, providing a means to vote electronically but also having a paper backup to display votes.
"I have wanted our elections, first and foremost, to be clean at every step of the way," Holliday said. "I think we're at a peak level running our elections now.
"I think we've taken the office in a positive direction, and I'm leaving it better than I found it."
As an added bonus, tallying for both 2018 elections finished by 9:30 p.m.
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Holliday will already be out of office, but a special three-levy election — held every five years to bolster funding for law enforcement, fire protection and libraries — will be staged on Feb. 8, 2020, and the legwork in preparing for that election is already underway. Voting at all of the county's 37 precincts (down from 39 in the most recent election) will be accomplished on electronic devices. Holliday says he'll follow results from afar.
"I'm always a phone call away," he said. "Don't necessarily look for me to be in every election night.
"It will be nice to watch it from home for a change."
Would he consider being a poll worker in the future? "I retired to retire. I want to do the fun things. To be totally honest, being a poll worker is not fun; it's a long grind."
While Holliday says the clerk's office is operating smoothly, among the hurdles the new clerk will encounter after the 2020 Census is completed will be a redistricting process for the county's three magisterial districts. "That's going to be a particular concern in Fayette, because, as you and I both know, the Valley District of our county is losing (population) more rapidly than anybody else."
To achieve population balance among the Valley, New Haven and Plateau districts following the 2010 Census, the line for the Valley District was placed on the outskirts of Ansted going westward, and outside of Fayetteville on the western side of U.S. 19. The district also includes Rt. 61 up to the Oak Hill municipal boundary.
Based on updated population reports, the new county clerk will have to recommend to the county commission new balanced districts, which will be a "really hard decision." Holliday envisions options that may include adding all of Ansted or all of Mount Hope to the Valley District. "It seems unnatural to call either one of those places Valley, but it's going to have to happen," he said.
The commission has the final say in the matter.
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