Pro Talk: City Clerk Sets More Than Just an Agenda
We're starting a new feature where we ask professionals what it takes to do their job and how others can venture into the profession.
As the job climate continues to change, there are several careers that many don’t know a lot of information about them. How did they get there? What kind of training did they undergo?
Well, Florissant Patch is attempting to answer these questions.
Each week, we’re speaking to a new professional or working person about their job, how they got it and what they do.
This week, we’re kicking off this series with an interview with Florissant City Clerk Karen Goodwin about her duties and how she got there.
1. How long have you been in your position?
Fifteen and a half years—four and a half years with Ferguson and the last 10 with Florissant.
2. How did you get into your field?
I took the position of Assistant to the Public Works Director in Ferguson. The City Clerk at that time asked me to serve as her Deputy City Clerk, and when she retired, I was appointed City Clerk. When my predecessor at Florissant announced she was leaving, I was encouraged to apply and was hired in 2002 as the City Clerk for Florissant.
3. What training or education did you receive for this position?
Although I have a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, it is not a requirement for my position. However, I feel that my education is key to understanding the workings of government, and therefore is essential to my providing good service to our city. City Clerks are primarily trained by on-the-job training and institute training and achieve certification through the Local, State and International City Clerks Associations. I have achieved the Master Municipal Clerk designation, which is the highest designation possible for a City Clerk.
The Deputy City Clerk, Anita Moore, holds a Bachelor's Degree and has achieved the designation of Certified Municipal Clerk.
4. What are your main duties or responsibilities in this position?
Every city in the world has a City Clerk, and although our jobs can be very different as a whole, many of our responsibilities are the same. In the City of Florissant, there are several roles the City Clerk plays. The responsibility that is the most obvious is the development of the agenda for the City Council. I gather requests for agenda items from either the department heads or Council and write the bills to be placed on the agenda. The City Clerk’s office is also responsible for managing the filing process for elections and certifying the ballot with the County Election Board. The City Clerk’s office is the official “Record Keeper” of the City. We maintain all of the permanent records such as ordinances, minutes and agendas of the City since its inception. We have ordinance books and minute books that are over 100 years old that are hand written. The City Clerks office also takes care of things like liquor licenses, animal permits (that go to the Council), Boards and Commission member tracking and Sunshine Law Record requests, just to name a few.
5. What tips would you give to someone interested in pursuing this as a career?
While this is a career that is little known to most people, it is a rewarding position and if you enjoy public service and history, it is the place to be. City Clerks do not normally set out to be City Clerks. There is no “City Clerk” degree or specific training outside the City Clerks organizations, but the study of Public Administration or even Political Science to some extent would put someone in the general direction. In most cities, the City Clerk position is one that you would work your way up to by starting with a Deputy position or an assistant type position and learning aspects of the position so that when the opportunity presented itself you would be ready.
Do you have a career path or job that you want to learn more about? Tell us below in the comments section!