Former City Clerk Sara Cox wasn’t in her office when the Daily Planet went there to speak to her on Wednesday.
On a plane heading toward Italy, the city clerk had said good-bye to the weekly and bi-weekly 500-page council packets.
Cox left her post as Berkeley’s number one clerk after a year and four months on the job. She’ll begin a new job as city clerk in a four-person department in Napa in mid July.
Until an acting replacement is found, former City Clerk Sherry Kelly, who has been working as a consultant in the clerk’s office, is expected to fill in, said City Manger Phil Kamlarz.
“We’re fortunate to have people here like Sherry,” Kamlarz said, adding that Kelly had been planning to help with the November elections. Kelly was not available for comment on Thursday.
Councilmember Dona Spring called the clerk’s position “a burn-out job,” demanding 80 hours a week and 100 hours at election time.
“No one could handle all the details,” Spring said, adding that Cox told her that she and her husband needed to slow down and live at a slower pace.
This year, the clerk’s department of 11 has been down three people, with two on maternity leave and one in the military.
Kamlarz said the council has authorized him to hire another staff person in the next fiscal year for that office. Finding people to act as temporary replacements is difficult, Kamlarz said, with “weekly deadlines and no room for mistakes.”
Spring said the department has enormous turnover. “Staff gets trained and transfers out to other departments,” she said. “How can you run a department that is so time-consuming and never stable?”
“It’s a workload issue,” said Mayor Tom Bates, noting that active citizens and commissioners create a demand for information. “People come here and learn by fire, then go to another city and it’s a piece of cake.”
“It’s a strain every week” to get out the council agenda packet. “Sara and Sherry made it look easy.” Kamlarz said. “Sara did a good job.”