Mount Clemens – A longtime Macomb County employee has been chosen to serve as the county clerk until voters elect a permanent replacement in November for the ousted Karen Spranger.

In an 11-0 vote, the county’s circuit court judges elected Kathy Smith, 51, of Macomb Township as interim clerk. She replaces Kathy Brower, who had been named acting clerk after a St. Clair County judge removed Spranger March 27 for falsely claiming a Warren address to run for office in 2016.

Smith, a judicial secretary for Macomb County Circuit Court, said she would not run to serve the final two years of Spranger’s term.

Before joining the circuit court, Smith worked for the county clerk’s office from November 1984 to February 2012, with positions including typist clerk, computer maintenance clerk, and judicial court clerk.

“My experience with the departments and employees with the clerk’s office and Register of Deeds makes me uniquely qualified to get these offices running more efficiently,” said Smith, who told reporters she was looking forward to starting her new job “probably tomorrow.”

Deputy Court Administrator John Nizol confirmed Smith’s start date would be Tuesday. Brower has indicated she would stay on as needed during the transition.

Brower, a Macomb County employee since 1992, had said she was not interested in becoming the permanent clerk. She had applied to serve as clerk until November but withdrew her letter of interest Friday.

Smith was chosen from a field of 21 applicants, including Fred Miller, a former state representative and county commissioner who ran for clerk in 2016; Roseville city clerk Richard Steenland; Clinton Township attorney William Sheehan, and Todd Schmitz, a former chief deputy Macomb County clerk.

Chief Judge James Biernat Jr. said Brower did an “excellent” job replacing Spranger and added that Smith would “step into this role seamlessly.”

Judge Edward A. Servitto, Jr. praised all of the applicants but said Smith was the best person for the job.

“Kathy was my clerk for 10 years and has great experience,” Servitto said. “…There is a problem with employees that needs to be addressed. I think she can bring stability.”

Spranger, a Republican who was narrowly elected in November 2016, clashed repeatedly with other county officials and union employees in the clerk’s office.

A federal judge last week dismissed a lawsuit from Spranger that alleged local officials worked to prevent her from performing the role of clerk.

Since her ouster, Spranger has asked authorities to investigate whether the removal violated her rights and state law. Last month, she also formally filed an appeal.

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