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Vereide elects to retire

After 38 years in office, 65-year-old calls it quits

By Roxana Orellana

rorellana@postbulletin.com

The Mower County building sat empty for Veterans Day. But down one hall, Auditor Woody Vereide plugged away in his office fresh off his last election.

"It’s usually when I can get a lot of work done because no one thinks I am here," Vereide said on Friday. "It doesn’t end when the polls close."

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From the way he explained the amount of work left do in the next several weeks, it’s hard to believe Vereide will retire from his career of 38 years at the end of 2006.

"It’s amazing how fast it came, when you think about it," Vereide said. "You don’t remember every single day."

The 65-year-old father of five began his career in the county as a deputy auditor in April 1968. He served in the position until 1985, when he was appointed to the chief deputy position. In 1989, with the early retirement of the auditor, the county board appointed Vereide to the position.

The following year, Vereide ran for election, won and has served in the position since.

Vereide remembered being trained to calculate property taxes by hand – of course it was a lot easier to calculate property taxes in those days, he said.

In his career at the auditor’s office, Vereide has worked every election since 1968. He never missed one.

"The last election I watched on television was in 1966," Vereide said.

Changes in technology through the years have made some differences in his career.

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Vereide said the advent of the computer did not save auditors a lot of time. Instead it meant the state and public expect more, he said.

On Tuesday, his last election, Vereide heard from countless well-wishers.

Along with his wife, Vereide’s daughter Marilyn and son Bob spent the day helping dad.

"I wanted to help out and see my dad in action," Marilyn Vereide said. "It’s fun. It makes me proud to see he is so well-liked in this county."

Through election night, Vereide had people asking how he felt about doing his last election.

"During the process, I didn’t have time to think about it because what was constantly on the forefront of my Norwegian brain was, ‘I got to this, I got to that.’"

The thoughts of running for re-election crossed his mind, but the thought of being 69 at the end of that term deterred him, he said.

There will be plenty to do between now and retirement. In the next few weeks, the office will wrap up election matters.

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Among the duties will be entering the voter history of all 39 county precincts into a state system, storing voting machines and having two precincts audited to assure the public the machines worked.

On what comes after retirement, Vereide said, "Beats me. I have no hobbies. Unfortunately this has become my hobby. I will find something."

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