Local woman to attend inauguration

A MONROE County woman, who started her political involvement as a precinct poll worker in the late 1980s, probably never dreamed that she would have a special invitation to the president’s inauguration in 2013.

That, however, has happened to Monroe County Recorder Ann Block.

Being a participant in Ohio’s 53rd Electoral College is enabling Block to attend the presidential inauguration ceremony Jan. 21 and to have a prime seat right behind Congress. All Electoral College electors received special invitations from the Joint Congressional Committee for the inauguration.

“I’m excited (about attending), and obviously, it’s a bucket-list thing – a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Block.

She went on to say that Ohio is considered to be a bellwether state regarding presidential elections and how exciting it was to serve in the Electoral College.

“It’s really poignant for me after years and years on the board of elections and working for the secretary of state to be able to participate in the Electoral College. Actually casting the vote, it actually took by breath away. … It was one of the most moving events I have ever been a part of,” Block said.

She first became in politics as a precinct poll worker in the late 1980s and then ran for a precinct committee seat. The Monroe County Democrat said she has held that seat for almost 24 years.

“I’ve always been interested in the political process,” she added.

She was selected as a participant in the Electoral College during the Democratic state convention and represented the 6th Congressional District. During the state convention, she was one of three persons nominated before being selected as an elector.

The 6th Congressional District is one of the largest in the state and includes Columbiana, Gallia, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Noble and Washington counties as well as parts of Athens, Belmont, Mahoning and Scioto counties.

Block has never attended a presidential inauguration, and the Dec. 17 participation in the Electoral College also was a first.

She also has tickets and reservations for the Ohio gala scheduled Jan. 18 and as of late last week, she was waiting to hear from the Joint Congressional Committee on the inauguration about tickets for an inaugural ball.

Her sister, Christina Rizzi Mikita, of Richmond, Va., will accompany her to the festivities in Washington, D.C. Although Block is more interested in politics than her sister, she said that Mikita, a Barnesville High School graduate, is “just beside herself; she’s delighted that she will accompany me.”

The two sisters are the daughters of Ada Rizzi, who was in charge of the Belmont Manufacturing Co. from 1962-78, and that company, which had been owned by Jonathan Logan, had been located in Barnesville. Ada Rizzi, a widow, now resides in St. Clairsville.

For the Ohio gala, Block intends to wear a tuxedo-style dress and jacket. The jacket has satin lapels, and it’s a tea-length dress. She has a black and gold beaded, street length dress for the inaugural ball.

Block, who participated in the Electoral College Dec. 17, described that experience as “very ceremonial, really special.”

The Ohio electors met that day at noon in the Senate Chamber of the Ohio Statehouse to cast their votes for president and vice president. In Ohio as in most states, the presidential ticket that receives the popular vote in that state garners all of the electors.

The Woodsfield woman’s name is going down in history. The Historical Archives of the United States is a recipient of one of the six Certificates of Votes from the Electoral College.

Block was one of 18 Democrats participating, and the keynote address was given by Ted Strickland, former Ohio governor and an elector from the 17th District.

Mid-December was a busy time for the Woodsfield area woman. The day after she participated in the Electoral College, she was sworn in as county recorder by Monroe County Common Pleas Court Judge Julie R. Selmon. Her first full term as recorder began this morning at 12:01.

Block first became recorder in October 2011 when appointed to fill the unexpired term of Martha Louise Reid, who had retired.

From 2007-11, Block had been regional liaison for the Ohio Secretary of State. Jennifer Brunner was secretary of state at that time.

As liaison, she served 11 counties, stretching from Washington County to Mahoning County.

She was deputy recorder in Monroe County from 1996-2000 and then was deputy director of the Board of Elections from 2000 through 2006.

A widow, Block has two grown children, David, a Monroe County resident employed by American Electric Power, and Annette Block Crum of Noble County. She has a granddaughter, Allison Crum.

Block was graduated from Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy before attending New York University. She also took business courses at East Groveport Community College, which had been located in Franklin County.

As for her upcoming trip to the nation’s capital, Block said, “I’m ready to get bundled up if necessary.”

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.