Essex County Circuit Court Clerk Gayle Ashworth has announced her intention to retire effective July 1.
Mrs. Ashworth made her announcement during the May 9 meeting of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
“This decision has been one of the hardest I have ever had to make,” Mrs. Ashworth said.
A 1974 graduate of Hermitage High School in Henrico County, Mrs. Ashworth came to Essex County in 1979 with her husband Jim, who then was a Virginia State Trooper and is now Chief of Police for the Town of Tappahannock.
She started her professional career with the State Treasurer’s Office and the Virginia Employment Commission.
Mrs. Ashworth then served as deputy clerk of the Essex County Combined District Courts from 1980 until she won a three-person race for the Essex County Circuit Court Clerk post in 1999. She was subsequently earned re-election in 2007 and 2015 for the role that carries an eightyear term.
“I feel I have accomplished the main things I wanted to as the Clerk of Essex Circuit Court,” Mrs. Ashworth said. “We are automated, our records are online, and we have security daily.”
During her remarks to the supervisors, Mrs. Ashworth said her career in Essex County has been rewarding.
“I can honestly say I have enjoyed my career very much,” she said. “I will miss my work, my employees, seeing my police agencies on a daily basis, the attorneys and most of all the daily contact I have with the Essex County citizens. I am very touched that the citizens have supported me for the past 23 ½ years as their Clerk.”
Mrs. Ashworth’s last day will be June 30. She said Judge Herbert M. Hewitt will appoint deputy clerk Christina Ambrose to fill her unexpired term which concludes on December 31.
Mrs. Ashworth said Mrs. Ambrose intends to seek the post in the November General Election.
“She has my support 100 percent,” Mrs. Ashworth said.
The Code of Virginia lists over 800 separate responsibilities for the clerk. The clerk serves as the recorder of deeds and probate judge, issues marriage licenses and is the official court administrator for all civil and criminal court cases. In this latter capacity, the clerk creates and maintains all court files and records, prepares court orders and jury lists, contacts jurors and issues summons and court processes.
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