Superior Court Judge David Emerson administered the oath of office to Howard in Emerson's courtroom. Howard, as chief deputy clerk, automatically succeeded Clerk Rhonda Payne upon her death over the weekend, but was required to take the oath in accordance with state law.
Payne appointed Howard as chief deputy clerk in 2008. She has served more than 18 years in the Clerk’s Office, 12 of those in Emerson’s Superior Court.
Howard has lived in Douglas County for almost 30 years, and is married to Happy Howard, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church on Ephesus Church Road. They have a son, Brad, who is a police officer with Gwinnett County, and daughter-in-law, Jordyn. Their daughter, Brooke, works as a victim’s advocate in the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.
Howard said she "was trained for this job by three great Clerks - Jane Williams, Cindy Chaffin, and Rhonda Payne - and that she will continue to operate the clerk’s office to the high standards of professionalism and service that these three great ladies set.”
She continued that she and the clerk’s office will “greatly miss Rhonda’s leadership but that she had trained all of us to succeed, and we will do what she trained us to do.”
Howard said she and Payne had been close friends for 19 years, and Payne had been a “true servant to the people of Douglas County.”
She said she also wanted to ensure the public that the Court’s business continues to be taken care of, even during the sudden transition and difficult emotional time in the clerk’s office.
Howard appointed Tammy Ayers as her chief deputy clerk Tuesday. Ayers came to the clerk’s office in 1992.
A special election for the clerk’s position must be held within 365 days. Howard stated she will be a candidate in the election.