Oakes retires from WCEC

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Vicksburg native Donald Oakes retired from the Warren County Election Commission (WCEC) in April after four decades of service.

Oakes was presented with a resolution of retirement during the regular meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors on Monday, June 17.

During his 40 years with the WCEC, Oakes said he always took pride in his work, making sure Warren County was home to fair and honest elections. 

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“I did whatever it took to make sure that when you walk in to vote, you could have confidence that your vote was going to count,” Oakes said.

Oakes began work with the WCEC after an acquaintance approached him with the job offer in 1985. He was the principal of Jett Elementary at the time. Oakes also served as superintendent of schools in Warren County before retiring from the school system.

Since that first retirement, now 40 years ago, Oakes has continuously worked with the WCEC setting up various voting machines. As technology evolved over the years, he said he always tried to ensure voters felt secure about their ballots. When he began at the WCEC, voting involved a 600-pound machine. By the time he retired, the process had shifted from paper ballots to touch screens and back to paper ballots. 

“Learning how to set it all up was a major project,” he said. “But it was good to know that you could do it.”

Oakes said he plans to stay active both at home and in the community during his retirement. 

“If you go and sit down and do nothing, you’ll die,” he said. “You rust out quicker than you wear out.”

Oakes said he is currently helping plan his granddaughter’s wedding, and he and his wife Becky are looking forward to attending a family reunion later this year. 

Oakes said, after first retiring from his position as superintendent of schools in 2003, he now feels prepared for what real retirement entails. And thanks to the promise of extra family time, he said this retirement may just stick.

That family time, he said, will be spent with his wife, as well as children, Stewart Oakes, David Oakes and Jennifer Abels; stepchildren, Tom Pharr and Natalie Pittman; and grandchildren, Anna Pittman, Olivia Early, Christian Oakes and Caroline Pittman.