Alumna thrives as elections counsel in office of Ohio Secretary of State
Law school prepares students for careers in all aspects of law, leadership, and governing, but one thing that nothing—not even law school—can prepare someone for is how to work—and thrive—under the glare of the national news media’s spotlight.
Just ask Carrie Kuruc ’04, who has worked as an elections counsel in the office of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted since 2011.
According to the famous saying, “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation,” and during election years, news crews flock to the Buckeye State in droves and often stick around for months, taking the political temperature in a swing state that often plays a crucial role in deciding national (particularly presidential) elections.
“It’s interesting to watch the work that your office does being reported in the national media. That’s probably one of the things that was an adjustment for me—seeing how important our work is to more than just the people in my office or the people in the state of Ohio,” Kuruc said.
She coordinates a staff of elections attorneys who serve as legal counsel to the secretary of state. They communicate with county boards of elections on matters of election law and secretary of state directives and provide support for matters pending before the Ohio Ballot Board. Currently, Kuruc and her team are breathing a quick sigh of relief after wrapping up another odd year election in the state.
“It’s been a busy summer, as you can imagine, with the three statewide issues on the ballot,” she said. And with the filing deadline for presidential candidates coming up on December 16, they won’t get much of a break.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of this team for the 2012 presidential elections, and going into the 2016 elections. It’s extremely busy. There’s not a rest,” she said. “A lot of people assume that the actual election date is the busiest time of year, but for us in the secretary of state’s office, the work extends way beyond election day itself.”
Kuruc, who earned her undergraduate degree in Spanish from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, said she first got the bug for government and legislative work during her time at Moritz, where she earned a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution and participated in the College’s Legislation Clinic.
“The staff at Ohio State—particularly Professor Joseph B. Stulberg—really opened my eyes to the fact that there is more than one way to resolve differences of opinion,” she explained. And, the Legislation Clinic (taught by Professors Terri Enns and Steven Huefner) led to her first job out of law school as a rules analyst with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) in the Ohio General Assembly. For JCARR, Kuruc reviewed regulations for state agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Medicaid.
That job, she said, “really broadened my horizons in the sense that I got a feel for what each and every state agency regulated on a daily basis,” she said. And though she did not initially enter law school with the intention of working in election law, Kuruc said she could not be happier with how her career has evolved.
She came into her current job “with very little knowledge of the elections process, but you have no choice but to just dive in,” she said. “ I quickly came to really enjoy it, because it’s a unique intersection of law and policy at the state and national level.”
It’s OK, Kuruc said, for current law students not to know exactly what they want to do after graduation.
“If you have the patience to let your career develop… and a willingness to take every opportunity that comes your way, you will get experiences you never dreamed of. When I was coming out of law school, did I dream I would be doing what I am doing now? Not exactly. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s very fulfilling,” she said.
“I have never regretted the long hours that I’ve put into my work. ” she added.
“I think that’s a test for whether or not you are following the right career path. If you are putting a lot of time and energy into your work, but you never regret it at the end of the day, you know you’re in the right place.”