The elections and assessment staff would probably have voted against it, but Kim Kean has retired as chief deputy clerk for Hood River County.
Kean, who has overseen assessment record-keeping and the ballot tabulation process for three decades, received a well-attended retirement send-off on Friday at the County Administration Building.
Well-wishers included fellow staff members and volunteer poll board members, Sheriff Matt English, County Board Chair Mike Oates, as well as Kean’s mother, Peggy Barrow, and her boss, County Clerk Brian Beebe.
“It’s exciting and sad at the same time, I’ve been through so many changes, hundreds of them,” Kean said.
“Kim will be greatly missed,” Beebe said. “She did so much for the records and assessment department. Her dedication was unbelievable. She’s planning out how she’ll help out even when she’s retired.” Beebe said recruiting for her replacement is ongoing and the deputy clerk position is still open, with “a couple of internal candidates who would do a good job, but they would have a lot to learn.”
He noted the unique structure of the county records and elections office.
“She is hands-on,” he said. “There is nobody in the state of Oregon who has all the experience. They’re going to have one side of the other,” Beebe said. “Hood River County is unique like that, with two offices under one umbrella, the only county similar is Washington, but they have separate divisions. None of the other counties do both elections and assessments.”
Retired appraiser Liz Garoutte had a particularly fond memory of years working with Kean.
“What people are going to miss? All the Christmas socks,” she said of an annual tradition started 30 years ago by Kean’s mother. Barrow, who lives in Pacific Grove, Calif., has sent Kean’s fellow employees gift-filled mini-Christmas stockings each holiday.
“We all keep them and hang them up,” Garoutte said. “I want to thank you for allowing Kim to work here,” she said to Barrow. “It brings back a lot of good memories when I started to look through those.”
Kean was hired to her position, but it is one that changed and expanded dramatically.
“We used to have an election supervisor and me, and I always worked elections too, and then when he (Lee Schissler) retired they combined my position.
“When I first came I did the tax roll by hand, we did everything by hand,” she said. “We had one computer on the records side and one on the assessment side, and all those polling areas, and then we went to vote by mail.” She also pointed to the big impact of tax limitation Measure 5 in 1990 and Measure 50 in 1997.
Kean, who has four children and three grandchildren, plans three months of travel in southeast Asia as her next step in life, before returning to Hood River — to help with elections.
“I’ll come back and help Brian and the others with the primary (in May),” she said. “I’ve been through seven presidential elections, this will be my eighth.”
Long-time elections board member Patricia “George” Page, joked, “She’s going to come back and be on the elections board, and she’ll think she’s boss, but I’ve always been the boss.”