Longtime city clerk hangs up hatPublished 9:24pm Thursday, May 27, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
When Ruth Harte began working for the city of Niles in 1988, she was thrown right into the fire.
She was working in the building department when the administrator’s secretary went on maternity leave, leaving Harte to fill two jobs.
“I was doing double-duty between the building department and the city administrator,” she said. “I still wasn’t that familiar with the city, so it was just kind of a learn as you go kind of thing.”
It was also when the city began its code enforcement program, adding to the workload and stressload.
But it was a lesson learned in being flexible and learning on the fly – two characteristics that Harte, who is retiring this weekend, says have been important in her career.
Appropriately, her last two years as city clerk have been a flurry of activity as well – the biggest event being the 2008 presidential election.
“The 2008 presidential election was probably the most hectic and challenging one that I’ve ever experienced,” Harte said. “Although I did get home on election night sooner than in 96, when I got home at 5 o’clock in the morning.”
For the 2008 election, the city got started preparing in September 2007.
“That’s what you see now,” she said. “Long gone are the days of the paper ballot and mark the ‘X’ in the box.”
She said the extra preparation was worth it, as voter turnout increased significantly in the city.
In Harte’s career, she has seen three mayors, four city administrators and five different types of election equipment (she’s retiring just before the introduction of the electronic poll books to the city).
She also has given more than 400 oaths of office.
She will administer her final one today when she swears in her replacement, Linda Casperson.
Harte is glad to see Casperson taking over, as she was her deputy clerk in the early 1990s.
Harte has no big plans for her retirement, just taking some much deserved time to herself – although not completely.
She still plans to volunteer for the DDA, the humane society and the city.
“I’ll work the elections. I’ll be at the polls,” she said. “But that’s as far as I’m going with that.”