Sometimes Ann Schroeder felt alone when she served on the Franklin County Commission.
“It was hard,” she said.
She recalls voting against controversial issues that her two fellow county commissioners supported.
During a recent interview with The Missourian, she had a coffee cup from the musical “Wicked,” but she does not see county government as theater.
In fact, she said if she has any regrets, it’s that she did not speak out enough on issues.
Schroeder recently retired from the Franklin County Commission after 12 years, and she teared up as she recalled the ups and downs.
Even when people criticized her, she kept moving forward.
“I stay in it,” Schroeder said.
She became a county commissioner after working in municipal parks and recreation administration, and at the time her colleagues teased her that she was going to the “dark side.”
Looking back, there were many accomplishments, she said, noting that one of them was taking the sunset clause off of the road and bridge tax to make it permanent. This allowed the county to secure more funding for projects, she said.
Schroeder also helped boost revenue for law enforcement by advocating for an extra quarter-cent sales tax for public safety. That helped the sheriff’s office by providing more revenue for personnel and equipment, she said.
But the construction of the new county government building, judicial center and remodeling the old courthouse stand out as her biggest achievements.
Prior to the new buildings, she said, county offices and courtrooms were spread out. Remodeling the old courthouse was special to her since she is a native of Union and remembers seeing the building when she was a child.
“It’s a gorgeous building now,” Schroeder said.
Not all of her memories are fond, however, but she stands by the decisions she made.
One of the last votes she made as a commissioner was on a new policy to control public comments during meetings. She voted against the new rules, saying she thought they were too restrictive. Public comments are part of “the people’s government,” she said.
She also was in the minority when she voted against the Ameren power plant coal ash landfill in Labadie.
“I do not think any type of landfill should be in a floodplain,” Schroeder said.
Perhaps her biggest passion was being an advocate for the employees, she said.
“The county only runs because of employees,” she said, adding that she hopes the workers will have the same support with the new commissioners.
The key to being successful in public service is listening, she said. And she got a lot of her training from her parks and recreation background.
“You learn a lot when you work with children,” Schroeder said.
Establishing a program to enhance mental health services for children was also a proud moment. She may now work with the program, which is called the Franklin County Children and Family Community Resource Board.
She is also proud of working with emergency responders and the information technology department to enhance the 911 system.
The Exceptional Equestrians program, which helps children and adults with disabilities, is another program she may assist.
Schroeder grew up knowing public service since her dad was a Union alderman, her uncle was Union city clerk and her mom was a teachers aide. She has passed down her legacy with her children serving on the Fair Board.
Everyone should be involved in helping the community, she said.
“The county is a very large community,” she said. “You have to break it down to all the pieces that help do it.”