NEW LEXINGTON—Perry County’s new Clerk of Courts Wes Harlen, accompanied by Deputy Clerk Patty Gray, made time to do a meet and greet with the Perry County commissioners at their weekly meeting on Jan. 6. Harlen defeated incumbent Tim Wollenberg last November to earn his new position at the courthouse. Following the meeting with the commissioners, Harlen made time for a quick interview.
“Nervous!” was how the newly elected clerk of courts responded when asked about his first day on the job. He added that his office staff helped steady his case of nerves with their warm greeting and professional approach to their responsibilities. Harlen said he has no intentions of changing that lineup. Currently seven women make up his staff, four at the courthouse and three at the title office.
“This is an A-1 staff and they run this office very well,” Harlen said.
Harlen’s father opened a NAPA shop in Thornville 40 years ago, and that’s where he worked following his senior year of high school. Running an auto parts store is part retail trade and a larger part problem-solving, Harlensaid.
“I enjoyed meeting people and helping them solve whatever problems they were having,” says Harlen.
Another thing Harlen has enjoyed his entire life is local politics. When the county Republican Central Committee approached him with the proposal to run for clerk of courts, Harlen did not give them an immediate answer. After serious thought, he agreed to run.
“Dad loved local politics,” recalled Harlen of his father. “He would be so proud to see me in this role.” Harlen said he tried to cover the entire county with his campaign for the clerk position
“You don’t realize how big Perry County is until you to try to knock on every door in the county,” admitted Harlen. “I did a lot of campaigning.”
That effort was successful as he unseated Wollenberg, who was running for a sixth consecutive term in office.
When asked to clarify the role the clerk of courts plays, Harlen immediately went into “game face” mode.
“Anything that happens in that courtroom is filed as a court document that is kept and never discarded,” he explained. While this is his first foray into running for public office, Harlen believes his strongest suit will trump his inexperience.
“I’m a people person,” says the personable new clerk. Between that attitude and his outstanding staff, Wes Harlen is definitely looking forward to the challenges of being Perry County’s new clerk of courts.