A familiar face around the Pulaski County courthouse said this week he will retire at the end of his current term in December 2014.
County Clerk Ralph Troxtell said in fairness he wants to announce his retirement early enough so those interested in the position will have sufficient time to make up their minds. Next year is local election year and potential candidates for county clerk have between November 6 and January 28 to file petitions of election.
“I’ve got my time in,” said Troxtell, alluding to 13 years on Pulaski Fiscal Court, representing the then-7th Magisterial District, and eight years as county clerk at the end of his current term. He worked for the Pulaski County Road Department before being elected as a member of fiscal court.
“I think the time is right ... it’s time to give somebody else an opportunity,” reasoned Troxtell.
Relatively young at 57, Troxtell is not looking at another public office. “I’ve got my farm and I do enjoy farming.” He owns 80 acres in the Bronston community and leases another 100 acres.
Troxtell indicated he will leave picking a successor to the voters. “I’m not endorsing anyone at this time,” he emphasized.
News of Troxtell’s retirement plans elicited the ultimate compliment from Pulaski Circuit Clerk George Flynn.
“My grandpa always told me you couldn’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” said Flynn. “But to transform an old plowboy from Bronston into the type of county clerk Troxtell is; that comes as close to that analogy as you can get.”
Said Flynn: “Troxtell is honest, trustworthy, hardworking, dependable ... he has everything you need in a public official.”
Troxtell embraces the plowboy image: “I’m 100 percent a country boy. I’m one of us. Pulaski County voters have blessed me to the highest. I will always be grateful.”
He credits a lot of good help along the way. “Without naming them, they know who they are. I’m a firm believer that in the political arena, you should surround yourself with intelligent people.”
Troxtell said the clerk’s office is a learning process every day. “It certainly doesn’t embarrass me to say, ‘I don’t know ... let me get somebody to help you.”
The branch office at Somerset Mall that opened in November 2007 is a campaign promise that turned into a success story.
“They told me it wouldn’t work but it has been very successful,” said Troxtell. “People really use it ... it averages 35 to 40 percent of the motor vehicle and boat licensing we do. Of the things I’ve done, I’m probably the most proud of that.”
Troxtell also renovated the main clerk’s office at the courthouse, increasing customer-service stations from eight to 17.
“We did that during the Labor Day weekend in 2008,” he remembers.
As county clerk, Troxtell oversees an office that took in $17.5 million in fees last year. Among its hundreds of duties, the office each year licenses about 80,000 vehicles, including trucks, cars and boats. The clerk’s office has a staff of 24 deputy clerks.
Troxtell, as county clerk, is chair of the Pulaski County Board of Elections. The board is in charge of conducting elections in the county.
“I firmly believe,” he said, “the recent switch to paper ballots, tabulated with optical scanners, has brought many older people, hesitant to use computers, back to the voting booth.” “Everybody is familiar with a pencil and paper,” he said.
“Some folks said a return to paper ballots would make it easier to “steal votes” during an election,” said Troxtell.
“No so,” Troxtell said. “Each precinct has its own coded ballots ... and paper ballots are only backups to the scanners,” he explained.
“I think we have the best election system in the country,” Troxtell added. “People (Harp Enterprises) who maintain our voting equipment say they love to come to Pulaski County.”