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It was fortuitous timing that took this Royal Examiner reporter/editor by the 15th Street Health and Human Services Complex to the Office of Elections & Voter Registration late Wednesday afternoon to try and catch up with retiring Warren County Director of Elections and Voter Registrar Carol Tobin prior to her departure at the end of the week. She confirmed her last day was the following day, Thursday, August 31st.

As noted in the accompanying photos, what we discovered, shortly along with Tobin herself, was a surprise Farewell Party hosted by Electoral Board members past and present, bringing friends, staff, and Tobin’s successor together for an emotional goodbye to the only voter registrar/election director this community has known this century — Tobin came on board in 1999, she confirmed of a quarter century at the helm of the county’s voting registration and electoral processes.

Royal Examiner went to the County Registrar’s Office on Wed. afternoon, Aug. 30, to visit Carol Tobin on her next to last pre-retirement day and found this gathering crowd nearby. Soon after our discovery, the only Director of Elections & General Registrar this community has known this century discovered the party, too.

It was a span of time, it was noted during remarks by Electoral Board Chairman Marilyn King when Warren County avoided any complaints or accusations of electoral or registration improprieties of the sort that have surfaced nationally in recent years. Tobin’s commitment to her job and all its out-of-public-view work and responsibilities was noted by past Electoral Board Vice-Chairman Robert Hill.

“It’s amazing,” Hill said of training tools and PowerPoint Tobin had introduced to departmental processes, “and I must say that she is amazing,” Hill added, to which a “We all agree!” reply came from the crowd followed by a rousing round of applause from appreciative co-workers, board members, and those other friends present for the occasion. “I’ll miss everybody,” Tobin responded to the outpouring of affection.

Carol and successor Deputy Registrar Matthew Reisinger with the County Electoral Board, left to right Secretary Lee Bowen, past Vice-Chair Robert Hill, Chair Marilyn King, and current Vice-Chair Daniel Arico.

“She’s seen a lot of changes. I’ve been on the board for, I think, 21 or 22 years. I came with Fitzhugh Wickham and Kermit Nichols. We were on the board together, and Carol was registrar at the time,” current longest-tenured Electoral Board member Secretary Lee Bowen observed. “And we’ve gone through a lot of changes from actually voting on the old crank lever machines,” which drew nostalgic laughter before Bowen continued, “through three or four versions of electronic voting during that time. So, we’ve had an interesting road that we’ve been down together … I’m going to miss her,” Bowen concluded before casting an eye to the future. He then introduced one of the staff’s four deputy directors, Matthew “Matt” Reisinger, as Tobin’s successor, to appreciative applause for the passing of the torch to a new generation. He added that another staffer, “Karen” (Deputy Registrar Karen Michaely), would also be leaving soon, drawing some “Oh no’s” from the crowd.

Tobin and Reisinger smile for the camera, then mingle with the surprise party crowd, one of whom at left has found the – yum, yum – food line.

“Thank you, all. You all have been like family to me, and it’s going to be hard to get used to not being here,” Tobin said in response to the respect and affection thrown her way. “And I’ve loved it, but I know it’s time, there comes a time for everyone (to step aside). But thank you. I love all of you,” Tobin told her supporters. In response to a question about her retirement plans, Tobin said she “hoped to spend more time with family, including two children and two granddaughters, located in Florida in the Orlando and Boynton areas.

“But thank you all,” Tobin said as the emotions of the moment began to show.

“You can always stop by,” she was reminded of an open door that would greet her at her long-time professional “home.” — “But don’t forget to bring snacks,” someone said, drawing laughter to punctuate the welling tears of the moment.

WC Circuit Court Clerk Angie Moore shares a farewell hug with departing Director of Elections & Voter Registrar Carol Tobin.

And a final thanks to Helen Brinkman, Fitzhugh Wickham, and Kermit Nichols, who were the board members who hired her, Tobin recalled.

 

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