Tammy Marler - Write-in Contender in Collector Race

Oct 16, 2014

If Tammy Marler were to choose a favorite superhero, it would surely be “Underdog.”

That’s because she realizes that is basically her position as a write-in candidate for the office of Butler County Collector on November 4.

Her story is not one of a blue blood Republican dynasty. Her story is one of a woman who has worked her whole life to overcome odds.

“I was born and raised in Butler County living at Lake Wappapello. I was one of nine children living in a home with just three bedrooms and one bathroom. I shared a bedroom with two of my sisters, one of them my twin sister,” recalls Marler.

She came from a single income family, with her father being a carpenter and driver of a log truck.

Marler started working at just age 15 as a waitress at Grecian Steak House in Poplar Bluff. She remembers at the time the owner was very hesitant to hire a 15-year-old, but Marler talked her way into the opportunity. Later her twin sister also began working at Grecian.

A few years later, Marler married and began working on an accounting degree at Three Rivers Community College.

But, life happens. She was going through a divorce and suddenly had to support herself and her six-year-old son. She worked two jobs to make ends meet. She took another step forward when then Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Ernie Richardson hired her to work in Child Support Enforcement, and then in 1994 she was hired by John Dunivan as a Deputy Clerk.

Marler says she owes everything she knows about county business from some of the greats who taught her, including Paul Hogg, who was then County Collector. She learned from him that the most important part of the job was showing humanity towards others.

In 1998, she met her husband Quintin, and they now own Country Bumpkins Flea Market and Antique Mall, located at 106 Red Robin Lane in Poplar Bluff.

Marler has now been employed by Butler County for 23 years, where she is office manager and does county payroll, manages the county’s employee benefits program and employee retirement. She deals a lot with the State Tax Commission and figures aggregated assessed valuations and reports the amounts to all county entities and seven school districts in Butler County. She figures tax statements for the railroad and utility companies within Butler County.

All of this is a long way from her childhood aspiration of being a flight attendant, but it still involves what she really loves: working with people.

She recalls the very moment she decided to run for Butler County Collector.

“It was 4:54 p.m. on March 25th, when the incumbent, Brenda Fox, received opposition in the race for Collector,” said Marler.  She knew a third person needed to file. So she decided to be that third person.

She even went to see Fox who was in the hospital, and explained the circumstances to her. She promised Fox she would not campaign against her, and Fox totally understood the situation.

When the other candidate in question withdrew because of filing requirements, Marler withdrew also.

When Fox died, the political parties had to nominate a candidate. Marler was told in order to get the Republican nomination, she had to contact 23 committee members to convince them to give her the nomination. She only got commitments from five, so she decided to run as a write-in candidate.

“I realize I am the underdog,” said Marler. “I realize this will not be easy. But I believe in myself, and I believe in the citizens of Butler County. I think they are ready for a candidate who has no political agenda, but merely wants to serve the county in an ethical manner.”

Marler realizes she may have ruffled some feathers when she told the Butler County Republicans that she believes all monies collected by the County Collector should go into the general fund.

She was referring to the approximately $25,000 in fees and commissions from Poplar Bluff City and Drainage fees that were added into Brenda Fox’s salary. At the time, apparently the agreement had been made to cover the County Collector’s expenses in managing those fees.

When questioned by SEMO TIMES about their thoughts on the matter, both Emily Parks and Chris Michel responded saying they were in the process of studying the issue to learn more about it and how Butler County’s process may differ from other counties in the state.

Marler may appear to be the underdog in this race but has a strong track record of public service well known to many county residents already. Even so, she has spent countless hours walking the streets introducing herself to as many voters as possible, letting them witness firsthand her enthusiasm at the prospect of further serving them as Butler County Collector.