WINFIELD – Darlene Smith loves her job in the Putnam County Circuit Clerk's office. That's why she is seeking the Democratic nomination to run the office.

"I love working with the courts, the judges, the attorneys and the public," Smith, who has been Putnam County's chief deputy circuit clerk's for 10 years. "I love what I do. That is why I'm running."

Smith decided to run after the October passing of former Circuit Clerk Don Wright. Smith, a Democrat, was named interim Circuit Clerk until Wright's wife Nina, a Republican like her husband, was appointed to the post, but she isn't seeking the job permanently. Smith faces former Putnam County Commission Jim Withrow in the May 13 primary. The winner of that contest will face Republican Ronnie Mathews in the fall.

"I've been called the most qualified, yet least known of the candidates," Smith said.

Smith has 28 years of experience in the Circuit Clerk's office, nine in Lincoln County, nine in Kanawha County and the last 10 as Putnam's chief deputy. She boasts that she has played a key role in the implementation of the modern technology the office has to offer.

"Officials from counties all over the state have traveled here to see the efficiency we have in our office because of these changes," Smith said.

Smith and her husband Don moved to Putnam County in 1992. Their two children – Summer and Trey – were graduated from Winfield High School. And she's eager to note that she recently became a grandmother to Brady.

But Smith is also proud of another recent milestone.

"On Feb. 27, it had been 16 years cancer free," she said, noting that in 1992, she had the lower right lobe of her lung removed.

Though experienced in the clerk's office, Smith is making her first run at public office. She said it's been in interesting adventure.

"It's definitely been a learning experience," Smith said. "But I've had some good people who have given me some good advice. My neighbors have been a great help as well.

"I'm learning as I go. I just want to get out there and let people know I'm the most qualified candidate for the job."

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