By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Jefferson County Clerk & Recorder Connie Simmons has announced she will be seeking her third term in office.
Simmons has served in the county clerk's office for 22 years — as a deputy clerk under Don Rector for 15 years before being elected to office in 2006. Simmons defeated Tommy Hayes that year and won re-election in 2010 in a hotly-contested race with Dan Knox, the current county treasurer.
A lifelong resident of Field Township, Simmons said she is seeking re-election to serve the citizens of Jefferson County.
"I just want to continue to serve. I'm not sure what else I would do," Simmons said. In her two terms, Simmons said she has made improvements in the office.
"Our recording is digitized. It's scanned to allow people to look it up easier. We are in the process of doing our genealogy records that way too. It's a slow process because we're doing it ourselves rather than hiring a company," she said.
"Election codes change all the time so we try to keep up with what they (Illinois State Board of Elections) require," she added.
"Keeping it going day to day now is a struggle because we're shorthanded. I lost two when we lost the ICE prisoners. I had two retire, but I haven't been able to replace them," Simmons said, noting Rhonda Hayes retired in December 2012 and Judy Osborn in January 2013. "I was already paying one salary out of my permanent automation fund. Hopefully, we'll get that reinstated when the next budget is approved."
The clerk's office now has five employees. When Simmons was elected in 2006 her vacancy was not filled.
"It's hard to wait on people and give them the service they deserve, but my staff and I work hard to do that. There is always something going on," Simmons said.
Simmons and her husband Jerry have been married for 40 years. They have two sons, Josh and Jared. The couple also has four grandchildren — three grandsons and one granddaughter. Simmons is the daughter of Lilly Arnett.