In one of her last, official acts as Kilgore City Clerk, Deborah Dane administered the oath of office to her successor, Rachel Rowe, before city council members Aug. 28.
Dane marked six-and-a-half years in the post, taking on the position 2012. She set to work to become a Texas Registered Municipal Clerk and achieved the designation in 2015.
“It was worth it. I learned a lot and I appreciate it,” Dane told the council, thanking the elected officials for the opportunity to serve. “I also appreciated the congeniality that exists on this council among the members.”
At conferences, other municipal clerks swap stories about dysfunction on the dais and combative councils.
“I’m really happy to say I can never enter those discussions. I have no horror stories to tell.”
Rather, Dane said, she thanks council members for their dedication to their offices and for their focus on fiscal conservatism.
“As any other Kilgore resident, I want to commend you for many, many, many hours of unpaid service,” she said, praising Rowe at the beginning of her service as city clerk: “I am very confident that Rachel brings a remarkable set of skills that will segue beautifully into this role.”
Rowe has been working in public safety about two decades and moves into the new job from the communications supervisor position at Kilgore Police Department.
Officially getting down to business Wednesday, Rowe says she’s still trying to get a handle on the nuances of the job, but she’s looking forward to the new and different challenges that come into the office at Kilgore City Hall.
“I’ve been in public safety for almost 19 years,” she said. “It’s a different kind of work. I’m very excited I’ll still be working with a lot of the same people I’ve already been working with, just in a different capacity.”
Learning the ropes from Dane, Rowe said she’s developed an even deeper understanding of the city’s inner workings.
“I realize just how every department works together to make the city work how it does,” she added. For her part, there’s a litany of new tasks ahead amid council affairs, tracking resolutions and ordinances. “The city clerk is the main record keeper of all the records in the entire city. It’s very important all those documents be precise, posted in a proper manner, stored properly, disseminated properly and destroyed in a timely manner. You work directly under the city manager who obviously is one of the major decision makers in the city and he answers directly to the council.”
As Rowe gets comfortable in the post, Dane says she’s enjoying her newfound free time, entering retirement with good memories from city hall.
“The most rewarding part of the job to me was helping people in the community,” she said, “either pointing them toward the right department or doing some research for them and finding an answer to their questions.
It was fulfilling, “just feeling I was there as a liaison, or a link, between the city government and the community. Of course the council has been wonderful to work with. I’m lucky.”
Dane is a behind-the-scenes mover-and-shaker, Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck said Aug. 28.
“She’s an influencer,” he added, and one of her mantras enters many debates at city hall: “Isn’t Kilgore worth it?”
That attitude has permeated city staffers.
“It’s important, and it’s infectious, and it’s meant a lot to me,” Selleck said.
For Mayor Ronnie Spradlin, the six-plus years have sped by, sprinkled with about 120 proclamations carefully crafted by Dane, included honors for local centenarians.
“She’s written all the proclamations that I’ve ever ready,” Spradlin said, wishing Dane could have seen the happy smiles as Kilgore residents heard her proclamations on their 100th birthdays. “All her proclamations are perfect, every T’s crossed and I’s dotted.”
Thanking Dane, Selleck said he’s confident the city has filled the clerk’s post – ever-important in a thriving city government – with top quality following on top quality.
“This matters. It’s a role that as we looked to fill it we took very seriously,” he said. “There aren’t many out there. Until our interview with Rachel, I don’t think we felt anyone had a skill set that was relevant and unique enough for what we needed.”