The primary focus this election day is on the race for President, as well it should be. After I leave work I’ll head over to my precinct to cast my ballot. (I just can’t get into the early voting thing – I like voting in my neighborhood on the day of.) Unfortunately, I won’t be able to vote for my favorite elected public official, since he’s only on the ballot in one small township in Wisconsin. However, let me take a couple of paragraphs to remind us that elected officials serve in roles both great and small, and we should be thankful for all of them.
This is my dad. He serves as the town clerk for the tiny township of Marshall in Richland County, Wisconsin. He was first appointed to this post to fill out the term of the previous clerk. He has since been elected to the post at least once – maybe a couple of times, I can’t keep track of their election cycles.
As township clerk, Dad is responsible for keeping the township’s paperwork, paying the (few) employees, keeping the books, setting the agenda for and recording the town board meetings, running elections, and in general making sure the town’s business is conducted efficiently and legally. For this he gets paid a minimal salary – not anywhere close to full-time, but maybe a little better than minimum wage. (Mom has been appointed the volunteer assistant town clerk so that she can cover township meetings if he’s out of town.)
Town business is seemingly never done; any time we visit the phone seems to ring on a daily basis with some issue or another. Maybe the town patrolman (who drives the plow in the winter and fixes the roads in the summer) needs help with a persnickety citizen; maybe some citizen needs reassurance on why their property is being reassessed for tax purposes; maybe the town chairman wants to confirm the next meeting’s business. Each phone call gets a patient and thorough discussion as Dad walks them through the issues.
The responsibility of running the elections is, by itself, a significant role – especially when you consider the number of elections that have been held in Wisconsin the past couple of years. During the recall effort for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, first there were primaries. Then there was the recall. Then there were some county elections sandwiched around those. Dad was running a different election every second or third week for a few months. Craziness.
There can’t be many elected positions more minor than that of town clerk for a township of less than 600 people, but I’m proud of my Dad for taking the responsibility seriously and serving the people in his township to the best of his ability. Today as we vote for our leaders at the highest levels, let’s not forget the servants at the lowest levels, too. They are worthy of our respect, our prayers, and our thanks today and every day as they serve.