KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo Township will be looking for a new clerk after the man who holds the job now made the surprise announcement this week that he will soon retire.

In Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, Mark Miller read his resignation letter, ending his more than 14 years of public service effective Feb. 28.

Miller was in his second four-year term as clerk when he said he had a change of heart after working long hours leading up to and during the 2022 election.

“Running elections, taking the minutes and everything else — I enjoy all of that. It’s only the stress of elections under circumstances as they have evolved that is the sticking point right now for me,” Miller explained. “I’m getting older. It’s painful to be working that long. And I just took a look at it afterwards and said, ‘Do I really want to go through that again?'”

In his resignation letter, Miller explained to board members the statewide changes to clerk’s offices that contributed to his decision.

“More and more complexity has been laid onto election administrators, both by regulations and by voter-approved initiatives,” Miller read to board members. “Some of these provisions add important rights to voters, but all of them increase the complexity and time required to handle all of the hundreds of steps we must carry out.”

One example he pointed to when speaking with News 8 is no-reason absentee voting, which multiplied the number of absentee ballots he and his small staff handle.

“We have to hand-assemble each envelope. There’s no machine to do that and we have thousands of (envelopes) too,” Miller explained. “There’s a couple of people here, so we have to get volunteers to do a good bit of that.”

In the letter, Miller also assured the board that his retirement “has nothing to do with the difficulties the Township has been facing in recent months or with any interpersonal issues.”

Looking ahead, Miller believes the future is uncertain when it comes to elections, particularly wondering if clerk’s offices in smaller townships and villages will be able to handle the launch of early voting. A ballot proposal passed in November requires the addition of nine days of early voting, alongside other election reforms.

“How are the ballots going to be secured after they’ve been put in the tabulator? Will we have to empty those ballots and put them in a secure ballot container every day during that at the close of business (hours)? How is this going to work for smaller townships that may have only one part-time clerk and no other help for that person?” Miller said. “There are a lot of unknowns. But I hasten to say that my decision to retire at this time isn’t so much about that. But It’s really about me and my energy level.”

Miller said he is confident that civil dialogue between voters and their clerk’s offices will improve.

“People will realize that they were lied to in some cases, about some of the accusations that were ridiculous,” Miller added. “People will appreciate those who are working to uphold democracy for all the rest of us.”

He intends to train the new election coordinator before his resignation takes effect and stay on the Township Climate Committee afterwards as he and the township manager discuss posting the position. He hopes his successor has attention to detail and a heart for public service.

“It is time for me to hand this off to someone younger, or at least someone with more energy than I possess at this point in my life,” Miller read from his letter.

He looks to have his successor in office by March — two months before this May’s local election, which is expected to have a Kalamazoo Regional Education Service Agency millage renewal on the ballot.