Palo Alto's new city clerk won't need much time learning the ropes in the busy office on the seventh floor.
That's because the new city clerk, Beth Minor, already has close to eight years under her belt in the City Clerk's office, the bulk of it as the second-in-command to Donna Grider. And when Grider retired in November, immediately after Election Day, Minor swiftly assumed the responsibility of leading the office on an interim basis.
Now, she is interim clerk no longer. On Friday, the City Council met in a closed session and voted to appoint her as the city clerk on a permanent basis. The choice was made after a recruiting process that began with about 20 candidates, went on to three finalists and concluded with Minor being chosen.
The transition isn't expected to be particularly difficult. Minor has been the department's affable leader for about five months, and even before Grider's retirement, she helped Grider organize and coordinate council meetings. She swore in the new council and earlier this year took the lead in coordinating the annual council retreat and the mayor's "State of the City" speech. Behind the scenes, her office hummed along without hiccups on maintaining meeting minutes, publicizing meetings and helping the public get information.
"I'm enjoying it," Minor told the Weekly, when asked Monday about her experience at the clerk's office. "I've been doing it for almost eight years and I really enjoy helping the public, and getting the information out to the public."
Minor began as the office manager and, over the years, took on more responsibilities as a supervisor. She most recently served as assistant city clerk, the office's second highest position, before assuming the top role upon Grider's retirement.
She said her office is now working to introduce a new service that would automatically track public-record requests and divert them to appropriate departments. She said she expects that service to roll out in mid-May.
The city clerk is one of only four positions that get appointed directly by the City Council, with the city manager, the city attorney and the city auditor being the other three. Mayor Karen Holman said the candidate pool for the position was strong and Minor was ultimately chosen as the strongest candidate.
"I think she's really stepped up," Holman said. "She shown that she's capable and collegial and has leadership capabilities. She also works well with the other CAOs (council-appointed officers), all of whom had very positive things to say about Beth."
The city has yet to discuss the salary for the position with Minor, Holman said.
Councilman Pat Burt, who chairs the Council Appointed Officers committee, lauded Minor for her proactive engagement with the city manager and the city attorney on putting together the council's weekly packet of staff reports. As part of a recent change, the voluminous packet now gets released a week and a half in advance of the the meeting. Before, it was released five days in advance.
Burt also gave her credit for "leading the charge" toward having all the packet documents available electronically.
He also noted that since Grider's retirement, the clerk's office has been functioning while being short one person.
"She has shown real leadership. She has basically got that whole office working harder and more focused and longer hours to cover the absence of one person in the office," Burt said. "They've done an especially good job."