MOUNT VERNON — Mary Jo Hawkins was honored as Republican of the Year during Saturday’s Lincoln Day Dinner.
“It is a wonderful award,” Hawkins told the News. “There are a lot of people that worked so much harder for the party than I did last year.”
Hawkins was introduced by Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster, a man who has been more to the current Knox County Clerk of Courts than just a boss.
“I took over the Clerk of Courts in 1999. I had been with the judge’s office for 30 years,” Hawkins said. “He has been a friend, colleague and the biggest mentor of my life.”
Hawkins said that whenever she doubted her abilities to tackle a new challenge, Eyster was right by her side encouraging her and reassuring her she could master the challenge.
“He believed in me even when I couldn’t see it,” Hawkins said. “That is a real valuable tool for any business and anyone to have someone like that.”
She said while working for Eyster, employees are not permitted to be involved with political parties. Once she became clerk of courts, she became active with the party “right away.”
The Republican of the Year is selected by a process that includes members of the Republican Party’s Central Committee.
Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost served as keynote speaker for the evening.
A graduate of The Ohio State University, he began his career as a reporter with the former Columbus Citizen-Journal. He then served in senior positions with the administrations of Columbus Mayor Buck Rinehart and Ohio Gov. George Voinovich.
After earning his degree in law at Capital University Law School in 1991, Yost became an attorney in private practice. In 1999, he was appointed to the Office of Delaware County Auditor and was subsequently elected to that office in 2000. In each of his four years in that office, Yost won the Auditor of State’s Making Tax Dollars Count Award, as well as the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.
Becoming Delaware County’s prosecuting attorney in 2003, Yost continued his career in public service in that office through 2010.
Yost spoke to the audience regarding legislation that is in the works regarding performance audits for the department of rehabilitation and corrections and the department of education.
U.S. Congressman Bob Gibbs, state Sen. Kris Jordan and Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl also spoke to the crowd to discuss hot topics they have been working on since sessions started in January.
Party members were also introduced to Republicans running for Mount Vernon City Council seats.