Heroes of Democracy: Wanette woman, 92, proudly serves as a precinct official in Pottawatomie County

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Wanette resident Peggy Wustenburg is the oldest precinct official in Pottawatomie County.
Wanette resident Peggy Wustenburg is the oldest precinct official in Pottawatomie County.

Since 2008, 92-year-old Wanette resident Peggy Wustenburg has worked as a precinct official at Precinct 42 in Pottawatomie County.

For Wustenburg, the best aspect of being a precinct official is greeting all the voters, seeing friends and meeting new people in the community.

"It is a privilege for U.S. citizens to have the freedom to vote," she said. "I feel it is my civic duty to assist voters with this privilege by being a precinct official."

Wustenburg graduated from Wanette High School in 1948, moved to California in 1954 and attended cosmetology school, then met the love of her life — Walter Wustenburg — and married him in 1958.

"In 1966 Walter and I returned to Wanette, where I opened Wanette Beauty Shop," she said. "Wanette is where my husband Walter and I made a permanent home with our two sons Stephen Moore and John Wustenburg."

Wustenburg explained she was inspired to become a precinct official by her friend, Dolores Brown, who also owned a beauty shop in Wanette.

"She would close her shop on Tuesdays to help out with the elections," Wustenburg said. "I decided I could do the same and closed my shop and became a precinct official right here in my hometown working alongside my friend Dolores."

She advises anyone thinking of becoming precinct officials to bring something to occupy their time during slow elections.

However, she said, when the elections are busy, it's a nice day out of the house.

For Wustenburg, the most impactful election she has worked with was the 2020 Presidential Election.

"That was by far the biggest turnout of voters I had witnessed while serving as a precinct official," she said. "It was a very long day."

For Wustenburg, being a precinct official is also a family tradition.

"Prior to my service as a precinct official, my sister Sylvia Pogue worked the elections in Wanette serving as the inspector," Wustenburg said. "When my son John graduated high school and became a registered voter he worked for his Aunt Sylvia as a judge."

Going forward, Wustenburg hopes Pottawatomie County continues to grow and prosper.

This article originally appeared on The Shawnee News-Star: Oklahoman Peggy Wustenburg proudly serves as a precinct official at 92