Mary Baack-Garvey was the first woman elected Buchanan County Clerk in 2010.
“It was my daughter’s (Sarah) birthday,” Baack-Garvey said of election night. “She’s my good luck charm.”
Baack-Garvey joined the local office after former county clerk, and former Missouri State Representative, Pat Conway hired her as one of his first deputies. That was 20 years ago.
“When he was leaving office he said, ‘Why don’t you throw your name in the hat?’” Baack-Garvey said. “I’m not a political person and I’m still not. But I decided to run.”
The St. Joseph woman was reelected in 2014 and continues to make strides in her role as the county’s top election authority.
Since being sworn in to office, Baack-Garvey has achieved many of her goals to make the clerk’s office more efficient.
Some of her accomplishments include removing schools as polling locations, decreasing the number of polling locations from 35 to 26, introducing electronic poll books to the county and restructuring the absentee voting process. Her office also reviewed voters’ records after the 2010 Census to ensure they were in their correct district and reduced the cost of elections and spending in the office by running an efficient and effective team of five women, including herself.
“We are small but mighty,” Baack-Garvey said. “It’s pretty amazing to me that people think they just show up on election day and vote and that’s all that goes into it. Election day does not just happen on one day. It’s a lot.”
There’s setting up ballot styles, waiting on ballots to be ordered and printed and making sure there are enough. Then there’s hiring and certifying election judges. The COVID-19 pandemic has only complicated and added other measures to their system.
“It’s a process, and then you get to the voting day,” she said.
Baack-Garvey plans to run again in 2022.
“Man or woman, if you feel passionate about something, go for it,” she said. “If you are thinking about running (for political offices), just go for it.”