By Beth Lawrence
Jackson County Clerk of Superior Court Ann Melton announced last week that she will not seek reelection and will retire at the end of her term late next year.
“I want to thank all the citizens of Jackson County for giving me the opportunity to have such a wonderful career,” Melton said in an open letter. “It’s been an honor, and I sincerely appreciate the voters who supported me during my terms of office.”
Melton has held the position for 17 years. She was appointed in 2004 when her predecessor, Frank Watson, stepped down. She officially ran for the office in 2006. Melton has been reelected four times.
Melton began her career in the Clerk of Court’s office in 1982 as a temporary employee. In 1984 she was sworn in as a deputy clerk. She was a deputy clerk for 10 years and assistant clerk for nearly 10 years.
Melton’s background is not in law, but business. She earned her degree in Business Administration from Southwestern Community College.
While serving as a temp she realized she liked the work.
“It’s the challenge of it,” she said in an interview. “You get to do something different every day. You get to wait on wonderful people.”
The Clerk of Court’s office handles everything from passport paperwork to civil and criminal paperwork.
When Watson stepped down, Melton decided she was ready to move up and asked to be appointed to the remainder of his term.
One thing that made her decide she was ready to advance her career was the idea of being of service and the challenges of the work.
“You’re in a unique position to help people as Clerk of Court,” she said. “There are things we do in estates, I feel like, where you really do make a difference to someone when you can make a complicated process simple for them. We always look for the reason to help them instead of the reason not to.”
Melton finds the day-to-day variety of the job exciting because each day requires something new.
Two of the many tasks handled by the Clerk of Court make the job especially rewarding to Melton, adoptions and swearing-in fellow officers of the court and county.
“Adoptions are just wonderful,” she said. “You’re creating a family. You are giving a child a family. You are giving parents a child. It’s very humbling when you see it come together. That’s probably my favorite thing to do.”
Swearing in others gives her a sense of sharing in people’s lives whether it is assistant and deputy clerks, sheriff’s deputies or firefighters. It gives her a sense of extended family and a feeling of honor to preside when someone takes an oath.
No one factor played a role in her decision to retire. She simply decided the time had arrived, she said.
Melton doesn’t have any definite plans for retirement.
“I don’t know; I’ve never been retired,” she said. “It’ll be interesting to own my own time. I’ve always worked. I may not like it and have to go back to work or want to go back. I guess I’m excited for blazing new trails. It’s the next adventure.”
She does look forward to spending time with her grandchildren.
Melton wants everyone to know that she has tremendous gratitude for the support she has received through the years, for her colleagues, the public, and especially Judge Marlene Hyatt who first appointed her.
“I’ve just felt like I’ve always been very supported by all the citizens,” she said. “I appreciate that. The staff members here, they work long and hard for people, I appreciate their dedication to their jobs.”
Melton will complete her term, which ends Dec. 5, 2022.
Melton closed the letter by saying serving as Clerk of Superior Court had been “one of the highlights” of her life and that those 17 years had “passed quickly.”
This will be the first time in four decades there has not been an incumbent on the ballot for the office of Clerk of Superior Court. The last time was in 1978.