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CHARLESTON -- It took some time before Sue Rennels decided to enter the working world, an early step on a path that took her to elected office.

Rennels was working part time when she heard from Judy Myers, who was the area's state senator from 1997-2002, about possibly working as her legislative liaison.

She recalled that one of the questions during the interview process was what she knew about politics.

"I said 'nothing' and they hired me," Rennels said.

Working as the public's first contact with Myers' office was something "I fell into and loved," and she later served in the same position for Chapin Rose when he was the area's state representative.

There was a connection then and later, as well, to that job and the one she's now leaving after 12 years, that of Coles County clerk.

It was her predecessor in the position, Betty Coffrin, who suggested Myers contact her and then urged her to run for clerk when Coffrin retired in 2006.

While pondering the move, she recalled, Rose asked her what she would think if she chose not to run for the office. Rennels said she knew she would "always wonder" if she didn't.

"It's been such a blessing," Rennels said of her decision. "I'm so glad I did take that leap of faith."

Rennels won a contested election for her first term and was then re-elected twice, unopposed.

The county clerk's most well-known duty is probably overseeing elections, and Rennels said admitted she was "overwhelmed" when she first saw the county's election equipment storage vault.

She quickly learned the process but also realized that the numerous procedures and documents required could be easily forgotten by an election judge who only deals with them every two years or so.

"I started tearing into it," Rennels said.

Some of it was as simple as color coding materials and documents needed at polling places -- green stickers for "green for go" for items needed to set up, and orange, the color of the sunset, for when the day ended.

"The judges simply loved it," she said.

Later, Rennels obtained a grant for new voting booths and more recently decided to "take the plunge" with new, updated voting equipment.

The old equipment was obsolete with no repair parts available and its replacement helped the county avoid voting problems other places have experienced, she said.

But there's more to the office than elections, of course, and Rennels said she's "very proud" of the county's property records recording and making more of those available online.

Her last term as clerk ends at the end of November and newly elected Clerk Julie Coe will receive her oath of office, along with other county officials elected this month, on Dec. 3.

"The voters have brought in someone I have every confidence in," Rennels said.

As for her own decision not to run for re-election, Rennels candidly noted a heart attack two years ago for playing a role but quickly added that, even had that not happened, it was "just time."

"When I came into this office, I prayed I would have the wisdom to know when to leave," she said.

Asked about her plans, Rennels mentioned such things as "savor the coffee" and "watching the moon," a pastime she said "gives me peace."

"I just want to go home," she said. "I want to take it one day at a time and cherish every one of them."

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