A tough decision
By GORDON ANDERSON
SANFORD – When Kim Butts started as Lee County’s elections director in September 1988, she said the elections office was “in a vault at the register of deeds office.”
“We had room for one table and maybe two people,” said Butts, who retired from her post last week. “We’ve come a long way and I’m proud of our record.”
Butts retired because over the last six months she’s been suffering from reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), a rare nerve disorder that’s caused her lingering pain in her left leg.
“(RSD) is brought on by a trauma of some sort, and it can be as little as having your finger pricked or as big as a surgery,” Butts said. “That’s what we think happened to me. I had surgery in December.”
Butts said that immediately after waking up from that surgery, she knew something was wrong.
“I had no control over my left leg. It was swollen, and my foot was turning red,” she said. “That pain was unbelievable. Even now it feels like I have my foot in a bucket of white hot coals.”
Butts said the pain has stuck with her over the last several months, and was the deciding factor in her retirement.
“It’s taken me six months to come to this decision,” she said. “And it was such a hard decision. I haven’t even been down (to the elections office) to get all of my things.”
“But it wasn’t fair to (then-Deputy Elections Director) Nancy Kimble, it wasn’t fair to the board of elections and it wasn’t fair to the people of Lee County,” she continued. “So I stepped down.”
Despite the hard decision Butts had to make, and the lingering pain of her condition – which she described as “a progressive disease with no known cure” – Butts said she is facing things with her head up.
“Sure, there are days when I’ve sat here and cried – but I’m not going to do a lot of that. I’m not that kind of person,” she said. “I’m not giving up.”
Looking back at her tenure as elections director, Butts said the most gratifying thing was “working with the people in Lee County. The employees of this county really rallied around me (when I got sick) like you wouldn’t believe.
“Someone once told me that they never knew which political party I belonged to, because I worked for both parties equally,” she said. “That’s probably the highest compliment I’ve ever been given.”
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