Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 14, 2013

Election official to just be herself

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — The plan for Doylene Cunningham is just be herself when it comes to her new role as secretary of the Garvin County Election Board.

Cunningham is getting adjusted to the job after being appointed as the replacement for Cathy Brinley, who left a couple of weeks ago closing out her tenure of four years plus in the office.

“I just plan to bring myself to the job,” Cunningham said. “That’s all that I have.”

The idea of Cunningham being the election board secretary here actually came Brinley herself.

With the two knowing each other for some time, it was Brinley who wondered if she had an interest in the position. The answer was yes as Cunningham likes the idea of learning new things.

“Cathy asked me if I would be interested in putting my name in the hat,” she said.

“At my age it’s a new challenge. A challenge keeps you on your toes. I think it keeps you young when you’re always taking on challenges.”

Cunningham is already on familiar turf here since she graduated high school in Paoli and has been around Pauls Valley for most of her life.

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and art from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in special education from East Central University.

After graduating from college in the late 1970s she spent a couple of years teaching in Texas.

Then it was back to her Garvin County roots as she was hired by the Elmore City-Pernell School District, where she decided to stay for a while as a special education and art teacher.

“I taught at Elmore for 26 years,” Cunningham said.

She then spent a year in Sulphur helping to set up the school’s day-time alternative education program.

While teaching she also had some other jobs, such as working as an emergency medical technician and respiratory therapist at Pauls Valley General Hospital and part-time at funeral homes owned by her sister in Sulphur and Davis.

“I was eligible for retirement from teaching and she was needing somebody full-time,” she said, referring to her sister. There she worked to oversee the offices of the funeral homes.

In fact, Cunningham was working as the administrator of Hale’s Krien Funeral Home in Sulphur when she accepted the election job.

Cunningham sees herself as independent with a steady but laid back approach.

“I’m a middle child, who does their own thing,” she said while describing herself as “even-kiel.”

“We’ll see how laid back I am on election night.”

Her first election will come in February with an annual school vote, followed by a municipal vote in Lindsay in March and other city elections in April.

“Everybody has been so helpful; people here in the courthouse, Gayla and the state election board,” she said, referring to Gayla Dean, who also works in the election board office in Pauls Valley.

“If I need some help I’ve just got to pick up the phone.

“Right now I’m not changing anything, but I do need to learn more about it.”