Wrong Jane Heathcott?

Last Updated 12/18/2011

General Information

Employment History

Administrator  - Elections

Administrator  - Dyer County Election Commission

President  - Tennessee Association of County Election Officials

Administrator of Elections  - 


Dyer County Administrator  - Elections

Web References  


For over four decades, Jane Heathcott has been in charge of one of the most controversial areas of service in Dyer County - the election process.
Effective Dec. 31, the beloved administrator will hang up her ballot box and retire from community service. Since 1970, Heathcott has served as Dyer County Administrator of Elections, a title she has held under five state election coordinators, five secretaries of state and nine governors. In her tenure, the state has changed voting machines four times - moving from paper ballots to purely electronic machines. It has been Heathcott's responsibility to protect the confidentiality of elections conducted in each system. She must also educate both precinct volunteers and voters on the new procedures - usually in a very short time frame. "We had to educate the voters on every one of those machines and systems," said Heathcott. "It required a lot just to be able to get people to change because, (as a whole), we don't like change." In her years of service, she has also moved the office of the Election Commission five times and served with 28 different election commissioners. "I've had a lot of good election commissioners," said Heathcott. "If you don't have good commissioners, you are dead in the water. My election commissioners are different than they are in most counties. They take an interest in this office and this process and they've got your back. They are here to help and not all election commissioners are like that. "In the 41 years, I do not ever remember a vote of the Election Commission that was not unanimous," continued Heathcott. "The election commissioners were with me. And, without them, some days you couldn't have gotten through the day." Heathcott was appointed to her current position after a call from Willie Clarence Moore in 1970. Heathcott credits the people she has worked with throughout her tenure - office staff, election commissioners and precinct workers - for helping her through 41 years in her position serving the Dyer County community. A reception, hosted by this special group, is planned in the Election Commission office from 1:30-3:30 p.m., on Thursday, Dec. 22. [Click to enlarge] "He worked for the city at that time," said Heathcott. "He called me at home and asked me if I would come to work. I told him I would think about it. After a call from Harold Holt, I took the job and I have been here ever since." Heathcott said the biggest challenge of her career spanned nearly two decades. "The most challenging thing I had lasted 16 years," said Heathcott. "We have to pass a test, equivalent to the bar exam we've been told, on Chapter 2 of Tennessee law," said Heathcott. "It makes you a certified administrator of elections." Although Heathcott passed the test in 1985, she did not receive her certification until two years later on June 29, 1987. (Photo) Heathcott poses with her staff and members of the Dyer County Election Commission at a reception in her honor in Jackson. [Click to enlarge] "It took 10 years in the Legislature to get the bill passed to certify us," said Heathcott. Heathcott has had an active role the Tennessee Association of County Election Officials, a statewide group in charge of annual training. The first president of the organization elected from West Tennessee, she has also served three terms at vice president, two terms as secretary and one as treasurer. "I have served on our legislative committee for about 30 years," said Heathcott. "And I am the only one given the honor of being appointed honorary coordinator of elections." Heathcott received an embossed proclamation concerning the honor on June 15, 1983. "... Whereas (Jane Carolyn Heathcott) has now learned the joys of attempting to get 95 counties to all pull in the same direction and do the same thing at the same time," reads a portion of the proclamation. "And Whereas she has demonstrated that she can endure all of the above and still retain some degree of sanity, "Now therefore, be it resolved, ordered, decreed and ordained, that Jane Carolyn Heathcott is hereby bestowed the title of Honorary Coordinator of Elections, with all the rights, privileges, honors, lawsuits, cussings, fussings, duties and responsibilities pertaining thereto." In her tenure, Heathcott has managed to balance the precision and accuracy required to maintain the integrity of the election process with that same humor. She credits the upbeat atmosphere of the office and the Election Commission meetings with the workers she has served alongside. "The most rewarding part (of my career) has been the people I have worked with," said Heathcott. "I am leaving a great staff here and the lady that is going to take my place is going to do great," said Heathcott, who said the office has had a good transition. "The state trains her first on the law. And what I have got to teach her is how to implement those laws because two-thirds of this job is not in that law book. You've got to learn how to run this office and that's a lot of work with a high stress level." Heathcott dealt with the stressful position by creating a team atmosphere. "I have been their administrator, but we have worked together and we have made a lot of decisions together," said Heathcott. "That comes from having a good staff. Without the people who have helped me these past 41 years, I wouldn't have made it. They have been my right arm and my left arm, too, sometimes." Heathcott's staff will honor her with a reception at the Election Commission office from 1:30-3:30 p.m., on Thursday, Dec. 22. The public is invited. "I have all kinds of plaques and awards," said Heathcott. "If people want to see them, they can come to my reception. I also have scrapbooks that I have kept from Day One." Heathcott's official date of retirement is Dec. 31. "You may have to look high and low to find me on that day," said Heathcott. Right now, Heathcott and her husband, Don Heathcott, plan to spend more time with their three sons, Jeff Heathcott and Tommy Heathcott, both of Dyer County, and Dino Heathcott of South Carolina. Jane, We will definitely miss you!!!

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Dyer County Election Commission

Jane Heathcott, Administrator of ElectionsP.O. Box 1109Dyersburg, TN 38025-1109Phone (731) 286-4268 Fax (731) 286-3581

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Senator Mark Norris -District 32

Dyer County Election Commission Administrator Jane Heathcott is confident in the new and returning commissioners and said she foresees the upcoming years as a positive experience.
"They are going to work out just great just like they always have," said Heathcott.

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