- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

ENID, Okla. (AP) - Despite only a couple of years as a local election official, Roy Schneider believes in some ways, he’s a “grizzled old veteran.”

Since taking office in 2012, Garfield County’s Election Board secretary has overseen 18 races. That includes the most recent presidential vote.

“You don’t measure the veteran status of an election secretary by years as much as by elections,” he told the Enid News & Eagle (https://bit.ly/1r0emer).

Schneider recently announced his retirement. His final day will be Aug. 1.

He also retired three years ago from his post as senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church after 15 years in the ministry. It was a second career for the former investigative reporter and self-described atheist, “wild man, avant-garde poet giving readings in Berkeley, New York and San Francisco.”

He also had worked as press secretary for San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson.

“None of that made me happy,” Schneider said.

The Los Angeles Times’ closed its San Diego office, leaving Schneider - by then an editorial writer - without a job.

“That’s how God got my attention,” he said. “I really was looking for truth in all that. I didn’t find truth in journalism or politics or the arts. I found all real truth is spiritual truth, and I believe all the spiritual truth is in Jesus Christ.”

The church led him to Enid. When word came he wanted to retire, state Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, asked him to serve as election board secretary. Because it’s technically a political appointment, the appointment is not based on previous experience working an election. Whoever is appointed can just be dropped in.

“When Sen. Anderson called me up and essentially offered me the job, I didn’t even know there was this job. That’s how new I was to it,” Schneider said.

What he aimed for - in Schneider’s words - was integrity and the public’s trust.

“He’s been a wonderful public servant, and he’s done an excellent job,” Anderson said by phone from the state Capitol. “We’re going to miss him. He’ll certainly be difficult to replace.”

Anderson also said he hasn’t found a successor to appoint. Once he does, he’ll take the name to the Oklahoma State Election Board for approval. State senators have that privilege.

Schneider praised his staff for the smoothly run elections in Garfield County.

“They make me look really good. Our election workers are fantastic,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of help to learn things. My first year was a presidential election, so you come up to speed real quick.”

There have been hiccups, though. He came in just as the state modernized its voting machines. Some of the workers didn’t want to make the transition, so they retired.

Keeping enough poll workers is the most challenging part of Schneider’s job, but he said the next election board secretary will have nearly a full complement.

“I’ve got some wonderful volunteers and some people that have been doing it for a long time,” he said.

This retirement is his real retirement, he said. He’ll turn 63 in July, right before he leaves office.

“My priorities are going to be my family, my ranch, my dog and my guitar,” he said.


Information from: Enid News & Eagle, https://www.enidnews.com

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