It’s March now, and since time flies by very quickly, Election Day will be here before we know it. I have been thinking of writing about the fact that my name has been on several of the ballots of Delaware County.
The very first time I ran for office, I lost. It was in 1976, and I was at a place in my life when I had a lot to learn. So, when I had the opportunity to work as a secretary at Ohio Wesleyan University, I jumped at the chance. That’s because while working there, I was allowed to take one class a semester. So, I did that for the next 12 years and graduated from OWU on May 8, 1988. Also, in that same month of May in 1988, I ran for office again.
I, again, ran for the position of recorder and I, again, took the necessary steps to do so. I filed for office in the Delaware County Board of Elections, campaigned as much as possible while still working full time, and I was on the ballot May 3, 1988, which just so happened to be five days before my graduation. What a busy week that was!
Putting campaign signs up all over the county can be a pain. You walk a lot of miles, climb a lot of steps to get to front doors, and you hear a lot of barking dogs as you set foot on the registered voters’ property. If someone comes to the door, they may spend more time trying to control their dog than listening to what you want to tell them.
It’s too bad that a lot of elections are won by whomever has the most money to spend for mailings, which are very expensive. Because the county of Delaware has been growing profusely since I ran, now it is almost prohibitive to think of going door to door.
When the polls closed on that election day in 1988, I went in the front door of the old courthouse and found the hallway was filled with people standing in clusters, while watching as the numbers of votes were being shown on the wall. (They had to use a slide projector back then.) Someone from each of the precincts carried in their results to be added to others already on the wall. With a glance, I could see the votes changing as the evening went on, and it looked like I was doing very well. As I got close to winning, I remember thinking, “Could this really be happening to me?” This was the primary, and since there was no competition in the general election, the winner at that time would be the new recorder for the next four years. When all the ballots had been counted, I had won.
At that moment, since the recorder’s office was right there on the first floor, I got to go inside the office that I hadn’t seen since I had worked there a very long time before. I saw the same desk and chair I had used back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Right away, I knew I wouldn’t be sitting there any more. I would have to sit at the elected official’s desk, and I immediately remembered the responsibility that went with that desk.
When you have any amount of control over other persons’ lives, it is a big responsibility! You have to enforce the rules, whether it means everyone sticking to the work to get it done every day, or following the sheriff’s orders about which door was to be used to come in. Or, if you need to hire a new employee, you may have to choose from several, who all need the job whether it’s for the money, or because they need to get away from a bad situation in their present job. And you have to get everything done perfectly, because if the name on the deed or mortgage is not spelled correctly, it will never be found in the right place in the index.
One of the first things I was told was when an assistant prosecutor came to my desk and said, “You can have no mistakes in this office!” So, I spent my 16 years of being recorder doing the checking of everything, every day.
What a busy day I had on that May 3 Election Day of 1988. It was exhausting!! Working full time at OWU and getting ready for their graduation, which was to be mine, too. Voting that morning before work, and then seeing my name on the ballot; walking across Sandusky St. on the way to the Brown Jug for lunch and almost getting hit by a truck; having a photographer come in my office to take my picture for the next day’s paper (In case I won); and being at the courthouse all that evening, watching the votes come in and seeing those numbers that were put up beside my name on the wall. Those numbers that changed my life forever thereafter.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.