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EDITORIAL: Remember late county clerk on election day

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By The Staff

Lost amid the buzz over Obama vs. McCain and Denny vs. Stratton is the fact that for the first time in a generation Harold Ritchey won't preside over Tuesday's election results.

Ritchey, the beloved county clerk who passed away this summer while jogging on Broadway, was Anderson County's Rock of Gibraltar when it came to election night, and Tuesday just won't be the same without him.

As enamored of his job as he was, Ritchey always seemed to love election night more than any other duty he so flawlessly performed.

Watching him operate on election night was like watching a duck on a pond. On the surface, he was cool, calm and collected. Beneath he was paddling like mad to ensure every vote was placed under the right name, and that every district's count was spot-on.

He was a maestro leading an orchestra; a jockey urging his steed to the wire; a coach leading his charges to victory.

Once assured the results were accurate, Ritchey would emerge from his small office, enter the courthouse's main hallway, climb atop a small step stool and report a precinct's results to nervous candidates awaiting their fates and supporters holding their breathe.

Witnessing the process repeat itself time and again as results poured in was the epitome of American life in a small town, and Ritchey's steady demeanor gave us all surety that when the counting was done, there would be no doubt who won and lost.

Will that happen again this year? Sure. Seasoned professionals who have assisted with elections for years staff the clerk's office, and it's safe to say that Tuesday's election will likely go off without a hitch.

But no matter how smoothly the evening goes, Anderson County will miss Ritchey's steady hand.

May those who enter the courthouse - be they candidates, supporters or just average Joes and Janes hanging out to see who wins - offer a prayer for Ritchey's family and remember how fortunate we all are to have known such an honorable, decent public servant.