WOODSTOCK – A fixture in McHenry County government for the past 43 years is calling it quits next year.
Longtime Republican County Recorder Phyllis Walters announced that she is not seeking a ninth four-year term, ending a political career that started with her 1972 election to the McHenry County Board – that election was the first in which voters directly elected their board members. And with the subsequent announcement that her office supervisor is running to replace her, with Walters’ endorsement, the GOP primary has become a contested one.
Walters, first elected recorder in 1984, said it’s time for her to retire. The recorder’s office is responsible for recording, maintaining and retrieving all county real estate records, documents and subdivision plats.
“I’m going to miss it. I wish I was 45 again,” the Algonquin resident said with a laugh. “It’s been fun, too. There have been challenges but a lot of great people. I’d do it all over again.”
The void that she will leave is one that Walters wants office manager Joni Smith to fill.
Smith, a lifelong county resident and former Nunda Township trustee, said she is running because of the challenges and opportunities the office faces as the county grows and the economy recovers.
“I carry the knowledge, experience and integrity required to continue the excellent service and forward thinking the recorder’s office has provided the residents of McHenry County for more than 30 years,” Smith said.
Walters called her years serving the public “a pleasure and an honor,” and thanked her staff for its work in making the office what it is today. Among her proudest achievements, Walters said, was being the first recorder’s office in the state to completely scan and index all of the office’s recorded documents dating back to the 1839 creation of its the county’s present borders – the county’s population has more than doubled since Walters’ first day on the job as recorder.
“I have truly enjoyed my job as county recorder and am extremely proud to have served the county,” she said.
Walters is not the first McHenry County officeholder to announce retirement.
Republican State Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, announced last month that he would not seek re-election after 12 years in office. The GOP primary to replace him already has two declared candidates, with two more very likely to join them.
Local elected officials who have announced re-election runs include State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi and Circuit Clerk Katherine Keefe. New County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, intends to run for a four-year term next year – the 2016 election will be the first in which the voters elect the position.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has since been changed to clarify Joni Smith's title.