By TEDDYE SNELL
Cherokee County Election Board Secretary Connie Parnell has retired after working at the office on College Avenue since 1987.
According to Parnell, she is considering taking an offer of a contract with the Cherokee Nation to oversee its elections, but no decision has been made yet.
“I worked at the office since 1987,” said Parnell. “I was appointed as election board secretary five years later. I have had the pleasure of working under three Oklahoma senators, including Herb Rozell, Jim Wilson and Wayne Shaw.”
Parnell said she has had the option of retirement since 2009.
“But I love what I do,” she said. “I wasn’t quite ready to retire then.”
Parnell’s assistant, Mary Kaye Masters, is serving as interim secretary.
“The state has a process for appointing a new secretary, and that appointment has yet to be announced by Sen. Shaw,” said Parnell.
While she’s enjoying her free time, she will miss certain aspects of the job.
“I will so miss the people,” said Parnell.
“As regional coordinator, I have worked closely with and gotten to know so many people in numerous counties. It’s been fun, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
When Parnell first went to work for the election board, ballots were still counted by hand.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching the evolution of the election process,” she said. “I feel like the election system is being left in capable hands. I’ve been through two new systems, and I was on ground floor with both of them. I think the state has done well for what we have for the voters. It’s been a great journey.”