MOUNT VERNON — A changing of the guard takes place today as Kim Horn replaces Rita Yarman as director of the Knox County Board of Elections.
Yarman, who officially retires today, served 16 1/2 years with the BOE including 2 1/2 years as a clerk, 10 years as deputy director and four years as director.
“My husband is retiring at the end of [April] and I am a cancer survivor. We are both old enough [to retire] and I’m not going to push my luck. It’s time to live my life,” Yarman said.
Yarman said they intend to spend more time with their 12 grandchildren.
Horn, a Democrat, has been with the BOE since December 2006 and is anxious to start her new duties.
“I am excited,” Horn said. “I enjoy working with the public and giving them a positive experience when they come in and assist them in any way. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Horn said the office staff includes five full-time personnel: three Republicans and two Democrats. Belinda Lanning, Republican, will continue as deputy director. The director and deputy director must represent the opposite party.
Horn said she hopes to emphasize voter education during her tenure as director.
“I really want to see more voter education so [voters] know what they need to have when they show up to vote, which will mean less provisional ballots. I also want to get voters registered in time,” she said.
Horn was appointed by the county BOE, which includes Republicans Bill Moody and Carol Sue Owens, and Democrats Tom Hayes and Jim Zak. The position was advertised, resumes accepted and interviews conducted prior to Horn’s appointment.
“They couldn’t have done any better,” Yarman said of Horn’s selection. “She was a poll worker before coming to the office and will be a great fit for the job.”
Duane Johnson was selected to fill the position Horn held for the past two years. In addition, Jena Llewellyn was moved from a permanent part-time status to full time, effective today. They join current staff members Lanning and Scott Howard.
“The goal of the Knox County Board of Elections is to conduct fair and honest elections for the people of Knox County in an environment that is accessible and comfortable for our public,” said Moody in a statement released Tuesday. “The board of elections thanks Rita Yarman for her service over the years and looks forward to working with Kim Horn and the current staff to provide quality election experiences for Knox County.”