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Waupaca County clerk to retire

Mary Robbins Will not seek re-election

By Robert Cloud

After more than a quarter century as Waupaca County clerk, Mary Robbins Will is ready to step down.

She will not seek re-election and will retire at the end of 2016.

Robbins Will was first elected to the position in 1988.

“There were four of us running,” she recalled. “Eleanor Dretzke retired as county clerk. I was familiar with how to run meeting, agendas, open records law. It sounded interesting and my friends encouraged me to run.”

Robbins Will faced challengers during the county elections just twice – her first election and once again in the early 2000s.

“I won’t miss running for election,” Robbins Will said. “I don’t enjoy going out and selling myself.”

Prior to her taking office in 1989, Robbins Will worked for the county as a deputy zoning administrator for 17 years.

“I’ve worked 43 years as a county employee. I started when I was 5,” Robbins Will said, laughing.

During her first year as county clerk, Robbins Will worked in the old courthouse.

Located in downtown Waupaca, the old courthouse was subsequently razed and replaced by what is now the city hall and public library.

“We moved into the new courthouse in 1990,” Robbins Will said. “Walt Ciura was the first county chairman I worked with. He was beat in the next election because of the new courthouse.”

During her 26 years as county clerk, Robbins Will has worked with two other county chairmen, Duane Brown and Dick Koeppen.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Dick Koeppen because he is so passionate about the county, our departments and our employees,” she said. “That rubs off on the staff.”

Among the changes Robbins Will has seen as clerk has been the county’s technology for record keeping and communications.

“We started with Selectric typewriters, then we went to Wang computers. Now everyone is on tablets and working online,” she said. “We’re working faster, but we’re also doing more things.”

Changes in the state’s election laws have been among her greatest challenges. Robbins Will noted legislators are constantly revising registration and voting requirements without giving much thought to how it will impact voters and poll workers.

So far, four people have submitted a campaign registration statement for the 2016 election for Waupaca County clerk, Robbins Will said.

Current candidates are Kay Suehs, with the county’s accounts payable office; Jackie Beyer, Little Wolf town clerk; Jill Lodewegen, the administrative assistant at the county highway department; and Don Aasen, county supervisor for rural Iola and Big Falls.

Candidates for county clerk must file a campaign registration statement no later than June 1 and before they collect or spend campaign funds.

They must also circulate and obtain nomination signatures, beginning no sooner than April 15. The papers must be submitted to the county clerk’s office by 5 p.m. June 1.

The candidates must collect between 200 and 400 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Only Waupaca County residents may sign the nomination papers.

Robbins Will said she will most miss the people she has worked with over the years.

“I’ve had some of the best staff ever to work with and they make me look good,” Robbins Will said. “I’ve also enjoyed working with the local town clerks.”

After she retires, she plans to spend a couple of months at Gulf Shores, Alabama, with her husband, Kevin Will. Then she may either work with him at his Corner Pet Shop or find part-time work.

“It’s been a great job and I’ve loved it all,” Robbins Will said. “But I think it’s time for somebody with fresh ideas.”

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