Two longest-serving Saline Co. clerk's office employees say they - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Two longest-serving Saline Co. clerk's office employees say they were fired without warning or reason

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SALINE COUNTY -- Dozens of employees and concerned citizens packed into the Saline County Courthouse Friday morning to show support for two former employees of the county clerk’s office who say they were fired Thursday without warning or reason.

"She walks to the back office, asks for my keys and my key fob and says we are parting ways as of this moment," said Julie Dunn, one of two former employees for the  office who say they were fired Thursday by Clerk Kim Buchanan without reason.

"I ask why and she said I’m not prepared to answer at this time," Dunn said.

Judy Simpson is the union representative for Dunn and Kathy Cummins, who Buchanan also fired without warning

"If you’re not prepared to give a reason, you’re not prepared to fire someone," Simpson said. 

Dunn and Cummins had more than 40 years experience in the Clerk’s office.

Simpson, accompanied by dozens of county employees and concerned residents, filed a grievance on behalf of the two, Friday morning.

She believes the firings were retribution after Buchanan lost the Republican Primary for county clerk last month.

Dunn is running for the position as a Democrat, and was supported by Cummins.

The pair say they were the only Democrats that worked in the office, and that Buchanan has been openly hostile about working with them.

"I very well believe this was a politically motivated firing," Dunn said. "In a board meeting she had made the statement that she shouldn’t be expected to keep democrats on her staff."

Employees and citizens from both sides of the aisle came to support Cummins and Dunn.

"This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, this is a right or wrong issue," Dunn said.

Harrisburg Resident Ellis McEwan says he's also concerned about the firings. 

"They’ve been here for a combined 50 years through many different county clerks and no one's had a problem, and now two weeks after Kim loses an election she fires both of them," McEwan said. 

Even Roger Craig, who beat Buchanan in the Republican Primary and is running against Dunn in November, turned up to voice his outrage.

"What happened [Thursday] is a travesty," Craig said. "You take your two most senior people in your office and you fire them without reason."

Simpson called on Buchanan to step down, saying she’s lost the confidence of the county, and its employees.

"If the county clerk cannot serve out the remainder months of her terms in an ethical and honest way, she needs to resign now," Dunn said.

Buchanan told News 3 through text that she does not plan to resign.

Both Dunn and Cummins say they’re exploring all possible avenues to get their jobs back.

The Saline County Board has called a special meeting to address the situation on Tuesday night.

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