Elaine Lamb thought she was taking a three-month job back in 1972 when she offered to help at the East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar’s Office during a mayoral election.
That temporary job turned into a 43-year career, culminating with her leading the office for more than a decade.
But this month, Lamb, the East Baton Rouge Parish registrar of voters, is retiring from the office where she spent her entire career.
“I looked back and said, ‘Where did the time go?’ ” Lamb said Thursday as she confirmed her departure.
She was named chief deputy registrar in 1974 and held that second-in-command position until 2002, when Nat Bankston, the previous registrar, retired and she was appointed to lead the office.
As the parish registrar, Lamb’s office has overseen elections, has maintained voting records and has been charged with validating voter-driven petitions.
Lamb said she had initially discussed retiring at the end of last December.
“Then, of course, St. George dropped off the petition in October, and I thought, ‘Oh Lord, I can’t just walk out,’ ” she said. “So I went ahead and finished the elections and checked the petition.”
Validating the petition to create the new city of St. George in East Baton Rouge Parish was one of the most labor-intensive projects Lamb said she’s overseen in her time at the Registrar’s Office.
The petition included more than 18,000 names that needed to be authenticated. It was likely the largest petition drive in state history.
The Registrar’s Office finished the petition at the end of March, determining that the group was 2,700 signatures short of what was needed to send the incorporation proposal to a vote. St. George organizers have until the end of the month to turn in names to close the gap.
“I really wanted to finish that thing more than anything, but my staff can handle that,” Lamb said.
She noted that this fall there’s a governor’s election, and next year is the presidential election, so “I just felt like it’s never going to be a good time for me to leave.”
Lamb leaves her staff of 15 under the direction of Deputy Registrar Sharon Bankston, who has been in the office for 30 years.
Next week, the Metro Council is expected to vote on creating a screening committee to review applicants for the vacancy.
The top three candidates will be reported to the Metro Council by June 17.
Lamb, a Baton Rouge native, said she plans to spend more time with her six grandchildren and to travel with her family.