Tiffany Rozell said the last few weeks have been a whirlwind, but she has enjoyed all the people she has met since being appointed Cherokee County Election Board secretary.
"I've met a lot of great people in all the parties that have been supportive and taught me things," she said. "It's nice to see people on all sides encouraging you. Being embraced by the community is so great."
A member of the Tahlequah High School Class of 2002, Rozell was born and raised here. She and her husband, John, who is also from Tahlequah, lived in Miami, Oklahoma, for about 9 months to "find themselves" as a couple.
"Then we came back home and started our lives," said Rozell.
Rozell comes from a family who serves the community, and she married into a political family. Her father is Scott Pettus, who was just acknowledged by the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners for his 35 years of service to the area's emergency management. Her husband is related to Herb Rozell, former Oklahoma state senator.
"Dad was always out in the community, and I never saw myself that way until it was brought out in me. I embrace it and love it," Rozell said.
Rozell did accounts payable and receivable and mail clerk duties at the Reasor's home office for four years, and worked at Armstrong Bank for several more. She started at the Cherokee County Election Board about three years ago.
"Rusty [Clark] was our [Court Appointed Special Advocates] worker. My twins were in foster care, and we adopted them in July 2016. In August 2016, Rusty was promoted and he needed an assistant. I reached out and he said to come in for an interview," she said. "He's made an investment in my life personally and professionally. I'm very thankful."
Rozell has three children, all adopted: Tripp, who will be 10 this weekend; and twins Tagg and Elliott, who turned 5 last week.
The Rozells attend Exciting Southwest Baptist Church, and are active in foster care and adoption ministry. The family lives on a farm, and the kids have baseball games and dance classes, so Rozell stays busy.
"I like to read, but the kiddos are my life. I prayed hard for those babies," she said.
After Clark gave notice he was leaving the CCEB, Rozell had to send her resume to Oklahoma State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton. Their initial meeting to discuss her appointment was delayed because of the flooding, but after the legislative session ended, she met with him in Muskogee.
"We discussed what I would bring to the table, and if I thought I was ready. I did, and Rusty did," said Rozell.
The State Election Board voted for her appointment at the end of July. She was appointed July 24.
While Rozell said she is still getting settled, she also said things are running smoothly at the Election Board.
"Things are running the way they were when Rusty was here. He has a teaching style I got to enjoy for three years. He was a hands-on and an inspirational teacher," said Rozell.
Since Clark was involved in the Tahlequah community, such as the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, he was often out of the office.
"He taught us how to do these elections, so nothing will change," said Rozell. "He showed us what to do and we're confident in our abilities."
The CCEB staff is made up of two part-time workers, Rozell, and her assistant, Chelsea Jones. Some current tasks include running elections, keeping records fresh and updated, ordering ballots, testing machines, and more.
"We keep up street guides and any records that the city, county or candidates need," Rozell said. "We're preparing for the early voting, and absentee ballots. Like any production, people don't realize what goes on behind the scenes."
She was surprised at all the people she meets during early voting periods.
"The young people voting for the first time and the older people who never miss an election - it's so neat to see the dignity and pride both groups exhibit," said Rozell. "That's my favorite part - getting to work with people."
Rozell encourages community members to contact the board if any assistance is needed.
"Come see us. We're always available and always ready to see our people," she said. "Come see us for early voting."