Story by Megan Whitehead | Aug 31, 2016
Photography by Anthony Jinson

Steve Korsmeyer – Cole County Clerk

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What is your current job title and how long have you held that position?

Cole County Clerk; January 1, 2015 to present.

Where else have you worked?

I was the owner and operator of Blackwell’s Garage for over 33 years.

Why did you choose to run for county clerk?

I believe in what the office stands for. The country clerk’s office is responsible for ensuring that every eligible citizen of our county has the opportunity to vote for the leaders in our community, state, and nation. We are so fortunate to live in a country where each citizen has a voice and an opportunity to choose our leaders. It is an honorable yet humbling position. When I heard our former clerk, Marvin Register, had chosen not to run for another term, I was already looking toward retirement from my shop, so I decided to run for this position. I had years of experience in successful leadership and customer service, and I had a good reputation as being fair and honest. I wanted to serve the citizens of Cole County in a broader way.

Tell us about your family.

My wife, LeAnn, and I have been married for 34 years. We are the proud parents of three children: Christopher, Stephanie Rankins, and Matthew. We also have five grandchildren: Noah, Blake, Emma, Levi, and Tyson.

Where did you go to school?

Blair Oaks High School.

What is your favorite charitable organization and why?

Cole County is a wonderful and caring community — we’re fortunate that we have such wonderful resources available when we have a need. It’s very difficult to choose one organization as my favorite. For several years, Blackwell’s Garage was a golf sponsor of the annual Rape and Abuse Crisis Center “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser. The work they do to heal the broken is beyond measure. I know that life can change within minutes, and when disaster strikes, it’s comforting to know there is help. In 1987, Blackwell’s Garage was awarded the first Good Neighbor Award by the American Red Cross for help in providing and servicing the first disaster relief van in Cole County. In addition, I’ve always been in awe of the help that the Samaritan Center provides to so many people who find themselves down on their luck. These nonprofit organizations are very successful. It would be detrimental to the health of our community if they did not exist.

What are some of your immediate and long-term goals as County Clerk?

Since I took office, we have purchased new voting equipment, which will save the county money on programming and printing costs of the ballots in the long run. In addition, new poll pads allow for easier sign-in experiences for voters upon checking into their polling location. We live in a very busy world, and in order to get people to vote, the process has to be efficient and easily accessible. In the future, I would like to see a ballot-on-demand system that would allow us to check in the voter and print a ballot specific to that voter. Our current system of ballot ordering is based on previous election turnouts.

How do you hope to impact the community with your role?

I hope to encourage people to register and get out and vote. Voting is a constitutional right that has been fought for. It disappoints me to have an election and only get a 10 or 12 percent turnout. With Cole County being the county holding the state capital, I would like for us to set a precedent for the rest of the state and have the highest voter turnout.

Why are you passionate about your position?

I believe the strength of the country rests in the vote of the people.

Greatest personal challenge where you have experienced success: 

Running for a public office is a lot of work. It is a year-long job interview with the public. When I decided to seek the county clerk position, I owned and operated a full-time business while also running a small farm. I had no free time — I attended as many local community gatherings as possible, put up signs, knocked on doors, and made phone calls seeking support for my bid. Two months before the election, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. Through all of it, I found strength in God, my family, and my community. On December 31, 2014, when I was sworn in as the Cole County clerk with my wife beside me, I was humbled by the amount of faith Cole County had placed in me.

What are you most proud of?

I am very proud that all three of our children are well educated, productive members of society. They are great parents to our grandchildren. I truly believe grandkids are God’s blessing for having children.

Favorite place to spend a Saturday afternoon:

I enjoy spending time at our farm. It’s so peaceful watching the cows graze in the field.

Favorite TV show:  

“Modern Family”

Favorite comfort food: 

Ice cream.

Ideal vacation: 

Relaxing somewhere on a beach.

Source of inspiration: 

My wife.

What is a fun fact about you that most people do not know?

I enjoy computers and surfing the internet. I do not know how we survived all those years without it. When I started working at Blackwell’s Garage in 1981, there were five people working in the office. Every estimate that was written had to be looked up in the labor time guide, and we had to manually look up the parts needed for every job. Then we had to call the parts store to see if the parts were available. With the internet, everything is at your fingertips.

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