1994 saw Bill Clinton in the White House and the first ever conference on how the world wide web might someday take off. It’s also the year Kay Baum was elected as the Newton County Clerk, a 24 year run that’s coming to an end.
Kay Baum just says she is ready to retire. In fact, when she started out, she had no idea her career would span more than two decades.
“I’ve really enjoyed being here,” says Kay Baum.
And while Kay Baum has a hard time imagining life without her day job, she is ready to find out what that means. The Newton County Clerk will retire at the end of her term. There have been a lot of changes, especially digital options for registering to vote and casting a ballot.
“It was a lot different, we only had the computers that were the stations – they were connected to the computer room and nothing really came out of those computers. Voter cards were entered in the computers but they were nothing like what we have now,” says Baum.
She has a many good memories, but adds there have been more than a few headaches too.
“There was the night we didn’t have electricity, that wasn’t that long ago. We did the voting machine totals in the dark,” says Baum.
Another election night depended on a single vote counting machine which broke.
“The part was in some other state. They had to fly the part in and so we were here most of the night,” says Baum.
Baum still has until the end of the year when her term ends and plans to keep busy.
“I do have a lot of stuff – I want to get cleaned up and straightened up so it’ll be easier for the next person to know what’s going on,” says Baum.
With nearly 24 years on the job, Kay Baum is one of just three county clerks to serve Newton County in the last 50 years. It will be a big change when the next county clerk takes over.