GALENA–Jean Dimke has served countless people in her 22-year tenure as Jo Daviess County Clerk and Recorder.
Dimke was hired by the former clerk and recorder, the beloved Pam Miller. Miller served in that role until her untimely passing in 1995. Dimke was appointed as clerk and recorder in 1996, and has since been elected to that position.
Dimke said Miller stressed that the clerk and recorder office is about people and service, and to be as helpful as possible.
“I wanted to continue that,” said Dimke, “I think we’ve done great.”
The clerk and recorder’s office has a myriad of duties, from keeping public vital records to overseeing elections. Dimke said the many hats she wore kept the job interesting.
“What makes this office so unique is there are so many different variables to deal with every day,” said Dimke. “It’s not a boring office by any means.”
One of those variables is taxing bodies and districts. Dimke said there are about 100 taxing districts in Jo Daviess County.
From townships and road commissioners to library and park districts, the number adds up quickly, said Dimke.
Dimke said Illinois has one of the most complex tax systems.
The clerk and recorder’s office works with the treasurer’s and assessor’s offices to set tax rates and Dimke recalls her early days working out tax rates manually, without the aid of today’s sophisticated computer programs.
Technology is not the only change Dimke has witnessed. With more than 400 county board meetings under her belt, Dimke holds a wealth of history in county affairs. Dimke said elections were always a highlight for her, and applauded the change from chad-style ballots to a ballot-reader style. The change was made after the notorious hanging chads in the 2000 election between George Bush and Al Gore.
Elections are constantly changing and evolving, said Dimke, and she must keep informed of the most current laws and regulations in the election process. In some elections, there can be as many as 100 different ballot styles, said Dimke.
“I like elections,” said Dimke. “It’s probably my favorite part. I don’t think the average person realizes the work that goes into elections.”
Dimke said there are around 300 election judges in the county, and between her office and the many volunteers, they work together to ensure honest and fair elections.
Dimke marveled at the many friends and colleagues she’s gained because of her work for the county. Within the county ranks, Dimke said the many offices coordinate and cooperate.
“Everybody works really well together,” said Dimke. “It’s amazing how many people I’ve met.”
The closeness of the small communities let people reach out on a personal basis, said Dimke, and the county and its residents are special.
“We are a gem,” said Dimke. “I really believe that.”
County Administrator Dan Reimer said Dimke will be missed.
“She’s a great team player and that’s what it’s all about,” said Reimer.
Dimke said the people and variety of the job are two aspects she’ll miss in her retirement.
“You learn something new every day,” said Dimke. “I like that. You have to love to keep learning.”
Dimke said she has been overwhelmed by people wishing her well in retirement.
“I enjoy coming to work,” said Dimke. “We are a family. The county is lucky to have such great employees.”
Dimke will remember her service to the county fondly.
“I certainly have enjoyed it,” said Dimke. “As much as I’m looking forward to retirement, I’m going to miss it.”
Dimke will be stepping down as of June 30, with longtime deputy clerk Angie Kaiser being appointed to fill Dimke’s expiring term.