Incoming Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada is focusing his efforts on getting his new office in order and preparing for the April municipal elections.
The 25-year-old Republican upset long-time incumbent Democrat Pam Doane in the November general election with a campaign fueled in part by criticism of her handling of elections. Although municipal elections are the only scheduled vote in 2011, groups supporting a change in the county’s hotel bed tax and the possible creation of a county-wide ambulance district have indicated they expect their issues to go before voters in August and November, respectively.
“Right now I am focused on the elections in April and making sure they are run efficiently and are accessible to the people. This election will be smaller than a presidential election, so I think it will be a good way for me to see how the process works. It is my first election and I’m pretty excited,” La Strada said.
Since the election, La Strada sat in on budget hearings and has visited other county clerk offices around the state. He also completed the first of his county clerk state association training sessions in the first week of December.
While La Strada says he harbors no hard feelings toward Doane, he told The Democrat on Friday he has been frustrated by his lack of access to the clerk’s office.
“We have had absolutely no transition,” La Strada said. “I know she lost and that has to be tough on her, but I think she did a disservice to the people of the county and you have to be able to put your feelings aside and remember that you work for them. I think it was wrong to me, but more importantly I think it wrong to the people of Pettis County.”
Aware that all eyes will be on him as he officiates his first election, La Strada said he feels some pressure but remains dedicated to “making sure I do the very best job I can.”
“There are no guarantees with elections. The same people that put me into office this time may well take me out in four years if they aren’t happy with the work I do. I just try to check myself and keep in mind that this isn’t my office, it is the people’s office. I know how important elections are and what it means to the people and I am just ready to get to work,” La Strada said.
In addition to his duties as chief elections officer, La Strada will also be tasked with issuing some professional licenses, handling billing and payroll for the county, and other day-to-day business.
He said he expects a learning curve as he gets used to his duties.
“I know I will make mistakes like anyone else, but I will admit my mistakes and learn from them so they don’t happen again,” La Strada said.
Looking past the elections, La Strada said he wants to remain true to campaign promises of engaging the public in the process and encouraging voter registration. He said he is anxious to get to know the more than 100 poll workers that help oversee county elections, and is hoping to convince more young people to work at polling stations.
“Voting is our God-given right and people should be involved so I want to do whatever I can to encourage that,” he said.