Republican Bob Elmore’s term on the Monroe County Board ended Monday, and in his six years he oversaw a host of changes in the county’s government.
That did not go unnoticed.
“On behalf of all the county department heads and all the public employees, we want to publicly thank Bob for your years of service to the county on the county board,” fellow county board member Dennis Knobloch told Elmore at the latter’s last meeting on Nov. 24. “Through easy times and through some tough times, he’s done a good job.”
A former businessman who worked in various roles, Elmore first moved to Monroe County from Springfield in 2008.
He had not been involved in politics before, but in 2010 he became a Republican precinct committeeman, citing “the way the country was going at the time.”
Two years later, Elmore became Monroe County Republican Central Committee Chairman.
After two more years and an election year Elmore described as a “bad year for the Republican Party,” he found himself running for a spot on the highest governing body in county government.
“I got talked into running for the county board because they couldn’t get anybody else to run,” Elmore recalled, laughing. “They just needed a name, and they didn’t really expect me to win. I was the only one, probably, who thought I was going to win.”
Elmore did triumph, narrowly beating incumbent Democrat Mike Kovarik.
In the years since, Elmore said Monroe County has seen “a lot of changes.”
Several of those have been positives in Elmore’s eyes – including the implementation of new security features at courthouse, creation of the Monroe County Economic Development Corporation, approval of the Monroe-Randolph County Enterprise Zone, and inception of the county’s human resources and public safety departments.
A particularly challenging positive for Elmore was the switch to using Paycom to handle the county’s payroll, which Elmore extensively researched.
“A lot of people were skeptical of it,” he noted.
Elmore also said there have been some unique challenges during his tenure on the board.
One example would be the death of fellow commissioner Ronald Schultheis during his term. Another would be the two major floods Monroe County has coped with in the last six years.
“That was quite an experience,” Elmore said of working on those efforts.
On a personal level, one of the more noteworthy changes came in 2016, when Elmore became county board chairman.
“I never wanted to be the chairman,” Elmore said. “It was just kind of by default.”
He has served in that role since, but decided to step down last year after Republican George Green announced he would run for Elmore’s spot.
Elmore, 82, cited the time commitment as a key factor in his decision not to run for re-election, and he was aware of that from the start.
He recounted how, in 2014, he loaned his political campaign fund some money. When he won the election, he took the leftover funds out and closed the account.
“I never really intended to run again,” Elmore said.
Now that his term is over, Elmore said he feels good about that decision.
Because of the pandemic, Elmore does not plan to have a large retirement party – though he said he and his wife, Shirley, may celebrate.