Between tears and hugs, Ingle — a familiar face in Nappanee and the rest of Elkhart County — took a few minutes to discuss her years on the job and what comes next.
Q: Are you happy, sad, a mix of the two?
A: “I’m very happy,” she said. “It’s my choice and that’s good stuff.”
She suffered health issues two years ago, and it got her thinking: Maybe it’s time to do something else.
"Now I can,” she said Monday morning by phone from Nappanee City Hall.
She’ll be able to attend her grandchildren’s sporting events and other activities, she said. Before, with her work managing the city’s finances, that wasn’t possible since most events occurred during office hours.
She loves to camp and hopes to do more of that with husband Dave. She’ll also have more time to play with her “toys” — a 1955 Chevy Bel Air and a 2001 Corvette.
Q: What accounts for your longevity in office?
A: Either people were satisfied with her performance or no one else wanted the clerk-treasurer’s post. “I like to think the first one,” said Ingle, a Republican.
Ingle, who turns 64 on Tuesday, started as deputy clerk in the clerk-treasurer’s office in 1980. She was first elected clerk-treasurer in 1983 and took office Jan. 1, 1984. Since then, she’s maintained an unblemished election record and, in all, won eight elections. She faced a GOP challenge in her first election and again in the 1990s, but Democrats never ran anybody against her, she said.
Kathy Brown has been working as a deputy under Ingle for the last five months and she was tabbed by a caucus of Elkhart County Republican Party leaders to fill out Ingle’s current term, which goes through Dec. 31, 2015. Brown plans to run for the post next year, she said.
Q: Your proudest accomplishment?
A: Having been in the post so long there’s “a whole long list you like to think you had a hand in,” Ingle said.
She singled out the move to computers in the office in the 1980s (before, everything was done on paper), construction of the Nappanee Police Department around 1990 and efforts by the city to encourage the Boys and Girls Club to locate there.
Q: What will you miss?
A: The people she works with, she said, but she emphasizes she’ll still be in Nappanee. “I’m not going anywhere, so I’m going to be around,” she said.
Nappanee Mayor Larry Thompson will step down at the end of his term next year after 20 years on the job, resulting in the departure of two veterans from city government. But Ingle expects a smooth transition.
“We have some real long-term department heads and they’re going to be able to carry on things,” she said.
Q. Now you’ll be able to sleep in, you won’t have to wake up and be at City Hall early each morning. Can you handle it?
A: "I think I’ll get used to it,” she said.