ALBION — Noble County Clerk Shelley Mawhorter was honored by the Association of the Clerks of Circuit Courts of Indiana with its Marlene Sutton Clerk of the Year award at its annual conference June 11 in Indianapolis.
Mawhorter, who is the association’s president, was nominated by Spencer County Clerk Sara Arnold.
In her nomination letter, Arnold wrote, “... Forty one new clerks began their terms in 2019. Several had little or no experience with the duties and responsibilities of being clerk. She reached out and made herself available to them to answer questions and concerns. She is the right clerk at the right time to be our president...
“... I have known Shelley for over 20 years. We first met as county auditors years ago. She is a dedicated public official whose priority is the taxpayers and voters of Noble County. But most importantly, she is a wonderful person with a kind heart.”
While pleased with the honor, Mawhorter said she was more touched by Arnold’s nomination letter, which was read during the conference.
“The letter Sara wrote meant more than the award,” Mawhorter said. “It was such a nice letter.”
A county clerk has a bevy of responsibilities. Mawhorter’s office is responsible for all criminal court filings made in the county, for marriages and divorces, for child support, sheriff sales, traffic tickets and estates. Oh, and the county clerk organizes all elections in the county.
“Can it be any more diverse?” Mawhorter asked with a laugh.
The heavy work load suits Mawhorter.
“I like to be busy,” she said.
Mawhorter started her public service work as an E911 emergency dispatcher, work she said she loved.
One day she pondered aloud the idea of pursuing public office.
“I said, ‘think I might run for auditor,’” she said. “They said, ‘You can’t win.’”
That only motivated her more.
“I like a challenge,” she said.
Mawhorter was elected as Noble County’s auditor in November 1998.
When she was first elected, Mawhorter leaned on those with more experience, frequently consulting auditors Kay Myers, of LaGrange County; Sue Ann Mitchell, of Kosciusko County and Sharon Hayes of DeKalb County.
The four remain close to this day.
Because she got the help she needed, she stressed all of the current county clerks attend the annual conference in Indianapolis. It took some pestering, but she got all 92 clerks to attend.
“This is where you meet the people who are going to save you,” she said. “I have 41 new clerks this year, some of them coming into hostile situations. There is so much free help out there if you know how to access it. Those are the people who get you through.”
Trying to make sure other new office holders could benefit from others with more experience like she had benefited from Myers, Mitchell and Hayes when she first started, is why she pushed so hard for attendance at the conference. It’s also why she got involved in the county clerks association and accepted her role as president.
“You pay it back,” she said.
Mawhorter receives calls from other clerks regarding how to handle certain situations. She is quick to help if she can, and just as quick to pass the question on to others in her office more versed in that particular process.
“I don’t want to lead them astray,” she said.
Mawhorter’s desire to serve others is why she ran for office in the first place. She is also president of the Central Noble Elementary School PTO and is active in the county Republican Party and with the Rosary Sodality at Precious Blood Catholic Church in Albion.
“I love Noble County,” Mawhorter said. “I love living here. I love that my grandchildren live here.
“If no one ever gives anything back, why would anyone want to stay?”