Retiring City Clerk turns life’s page

By Paul Archipley | Oct 31, 2013
Photo by: Paul Archipley Retiring City Clerk Sandy Chase shows the audience a memento presented to her by Mayor Dave Earling at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Chase closes this chapter today after 20 years with the City of Edmonds.

If Sandy Chase were to write her own job description, she said it might include something along the lines of “the glue that holds a lot of pieces together.”

The five mayors she worked with over the past 20 years would no doubt agree.

After two decades as the City Clerk of Edmonds, Chase is saying goodbye today.

An actual job description, of course, would be somewhat more specific.

Appointed rather than elected, the City Clerk is charged with coordinating agendas and meetings, working with the City Attorney in preparing ordinances and resolutions, overseeing changes and updates in the City Code, issuing business licenses and parking permits, handling all city contracts… it’s probably impossible to list every task.

Have a dangerous dog in the neighborhood? Embroiled in litigation with the city? Have a question about a plat? Need a notary? More often than not, it starts with the City Clerk’s office.

“I’ve often said when they didn’t know who should do it, they’d say, ‘Let’s assign the City Clerk to that job,’” Chase said.

With three full-time and one half-time employee in the office, Chase said they likely have their fingers on nearly every kind of city business.

And she will miss it.

“I love being at the heart of things,” Chase said. “I’m aware of what’s going on in the city.”

She has liked working with elected officials as well as fellow staff, and was privy to much confidential information that required a deft hand.

“It’s been challenging, but rewarding,” she said.

Ever considerate of others, Chase is hesitant to single out anyone who made a particular impression over the years.

Pressed, however, she said former Mayor Gary Haakenson, whom she worked with the longest, was a mentor.

“I felt Gary encouraged me a great deal,” Chase said. “He helped me grow in my position.”

Haakenson, in turn, praised Chase – as a worker as well as a human being.

“As a City Clerk, she was the best anybody could ask for,” Haakenson said.

“And as a person, she was even better than that.”

The former mayor marveled at Chase’s calm demeanor.

“She never raised her voice,” he said. “She never got upset.”

Honored by current Mayor Dave Earling and the City Council on Tuesday, Chase said it would take her some time to get used to having Tuesday evenings to herself.

Ever gracious, she said, “It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your City Clerk for so many years.”

Mayor Dave Earling praised her as a person as well as a hard worker.

“She is a good person doing good work, because she believes in what she does and is so good at what she does,” the mayor said.

As with any job, there are some parts Chase won’t miss.

Perhaps at the top of that list is the growing number of requests for public records.

“The time required has expanded dramatically,” Chase said.

“I love to track down things. But it has grown into craziness with email searches.”

Governments at all levels have grappled with the growing trend in public watchdogs demanding every email and correspondence.

But not everything government does is public, and sifting through the electronic mountain of information requires legal considerations as well as lots of time.

“As the issue goes through the courts, the rules seem to keep changing,” Chase said. “It can be stressful.”

But overall, Chase leaves with happy memories.

“It’s bitter-sweet,” she said, “but I think it’s the right time.”

Raised in La Mirada, Calif., Chase landed in Washington when her husband Chris took a job with the Seattle YMCA. The Y had property in Woodway, and permitted the couple to move in there.

That opened the door to a job as Deputy City Clerk in Edmonds. Shortly after, the City Clerk’s position opened up.

“I was the right person at the right time,” she said. “I was very fortunate.”

Twenty years later, Chase is looking forward to the next phase of her life.

Now the Pastor of Community Ministry at North Sound Church, Chris will cut back, and the couple will have time to pursue other interests.

They will spend more time at their vacation home on the Oregon coast, as well as take other trips. They have plans to visit one of their two sons who, with his wife, is a missionary in Cambodia.

Their other son has a 15-month-old son, so Chase is looking forward to grandma duty.

Chase also would like to visit her brother in California, and otherwise focus on her family.

Finally, she looks forward to being involved in Edmonds in ways other than through City Hall.

“I’m not sure what that looks like yet,” she said. “Everything is kind of open now.

“I want to appreciate this new season in my life.”

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