PLATTSBURGH — On his last day as the Clinton County Board of Elections' Republican commissioner, Greg Campbell said the hard part about retiring will be adjusting to not seeing his fellow employees every day.
"I’m really a people person and we have great rapport with the staff here — everybody — so it’s kind of like a family situation," he told The Press-Republican Friday.
Campbell, 71, was first appointed Republican commissioner in January 2011, following several positions that involved him in state and local politics during a 30-year career in the investment business.
He was a Clinton County legislator in the late 1980s before going on to chair the Town of AuSable's Republican committee, later leading the county's GOP.
In 1995, then-Gov. George Pataki appointed him chair of the Adirondack Park Agency. Pataki later made Campbell special assistant for economic development in the Adirondacks at Empire State Development.
Campbell wasn't quite ready to retire in December 2010, so he inquired about the Republican commissioner position, which was set to open up, and has held the post ever since.
"It’s a lot different today than it was back then," he said, laughing. "Oh my goodness."
Campbell's 10-and-a-half years as commissioner included the transition from traditional lever voting machines to the current ImageCast machines, implementation of the Clear Ballot system for scanning absentee ballots, and the newer use of electronic poll pads and ballot-on-demand printers.
Regarding election challenges that have stood out, Campbell reflected on the three presidential contests during his tenure.
He said 2012 was nothing like 2016, with a primary he described as busier than any election prior.
But 2020 took the cake, Campbell said, as it came on the heels of both dozens of new election laws and pandemic-related requirements, such as allowing anyone who wanted one to apply for an absentee ballot.
"We had ... about a 73 percent voter turnout for that election, which was way above any previous election."
Campbell anticipates impending changes at the state and federal levels will make the elections process even more challenging for BOEs around the state.
Campbell said elections commissioners are important because they maintain the integrity of the elections system, a goal he feels has been accomplished during his time at the BOE.
"People need to feel that, if they vote, their vote counts, that it's being counted, that the process is open and fair, and that there’s no shenanigans going on behind the scenes."
He added that commissioners are basically record keepers of all the county's voters and voting history, information that is continuously updated.
"And then just putting on the elections — it used to be you’d have maybe two elections a year. We’ve had as many as five a year."
Campbell plans to stay involved with the Clinton County Republican Committee for a time.
"It’s been in my blood for so many years that it’s hard to just go cold turkey ... plus the fact that I just appreciate that the committee felt enough confidence in me to have me reappointed every time my term was up. It’s kind of giving back to that, too."
He said now is the time for retirement because, according to his wife, Christine, "They've had you for long enough."
Campbell looks forward to having more freedom with his time to golf, go fishing, hunt in the fall — typically a busy time for the BOE — and have more flexibility to visit his children and grandchildren in Virginia.
Campbell had no advice for his successor, Deputy Commissioner Jodi Currier, only praise.
Clinton County legislators unanimously approved her appointment from May 31, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2022 — the remainder of Campbell's current term — at their meeting Wednesday.
"A lot of what I’ve been able to do and our office has been able to do is because of Jodi, her work," Campbell said. "She has an awesome work ethic and she learned the job very quickly. Just a very sharp person.
"And she has a great personality with working with people which (for) this job, that’s so crucial, to be able to relate to people."
Overall, Campbell feels the office — with Currier taking over as Republican commissioner, Hunter Sartwell stepping up as GOP deputy, and Mary Dyer and Brandi Lloyd as Democratic commissioner and deputy commissioner, respectively — is in great hands.
Currier said she looks forward to the challenges the BOE can bring.
"And being with the people I like to work with."
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