Dublin's Clarke lauded for three decades of constancy as council clerk

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
Retired Dublin City Council clerk Anne Clarke shares stories from her more than 30-year career with the city on her last day Jan. 29 at her office in the old City Hall building.

Since 1991, 26 Dublin City Council members, nine mayors and five city managers have worked in Dublin City Hall – but only one clerk of council: Anne Clarke.

During Clarke's tenure, the Justice Center, a new recreation center, the Grounds of Remembrance, a new pool, Bridge Park and two new high schools were constructed, and Dublin welcomed several new businesses, such as Cardinal Health, transforming the vestiges of a rural farming community into one of the largest suburban cities in Ohio.

“It’s amazing what has come to fruition,” she said.

Clarke, 71, swiped her key card at Dublin City Hall for the last time Jan. 29.

With her goes a wealth of knowledge and experience, something that is not lost on the council members for whom she served.

“(Anne’s) level of professionalism is the epitome of Dublin, (and) she has set the bar as a polished and eloquent clerk,” council member Andy Keeler said.

More than 20 years after the fact, council member Greg Peterson, also a former prosecutor and Franklin County Court of Common Pleas judge, recalled Clarke’s gentle guidance to him as a rookie council member in 1996.

“She was a guiding light for me,” said Peterson, recalling the good fortune of being seated next to her on the council dais and in proximity for any questions he had during a council session.

Clarke was only too happy to help.

“I’m a people person,” said Clarke, adding she naturally will miss both her colleagues at City Hall and residents, even though they had much less personal interaction during the past 12 months because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

On Jan. 29, Dublin City Hall was dimly lit and nearly silent as Clarke packed up the remnants of three decades' worth of papers, photographs and mementos into boxes.

One shelf contained three cassette tapes bound with a rubber band. They held a recording from a planning and zoning meeting in June 1985.

“There isn’t anything here to play those,” she said.

The tapes served as a physical reminder of how much a clerk’s tasks and technology have changed since she stepped into a job left vacant by the death of Frances Urban, the clerk of council before Clarke.

Clarke was born in Iowa and came to central Ohio in 1977.

She began working for Dublin in November 1990 as an administrative assistant in the city’s building department.

Upon the death of Urban in June 1991, Clarke sought and was appointed as clerk of council that November.

The vice mayor then was David Amorose, the father of Dublin’s current mayor, Chris Amorose Groomes.

Because of the circumstances, Clarke had a lot of things to figure out of her own.

“I was told, 'Here’s the agenda and here’s what you do,'” said Clarke, who since that day has done that and a lot more.

While fulfilling the traditional tasks of writing and preparing legislation and keeping the records of City Council, Clarke also has served as president of the Ohio Municipal Clerks Association in 2004 and 2005 and was a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.

Clarke said she strived to pass along the advice, guidance and encouragement to other municipal clerks she received early in her clerking career. That includes her immediate successor, acting clerk of council Jenny Delgado, whom City Council appointed Jan. 19, effective Jan. 30. Delgado had been Dublin's deputy clerk.

“The day before a council meeting (once was) a sea of paper to assemble all the council packets,” she said, but it’s all electronic now.

Although she slowly acclimated to the migration of staples and paper clips to PDFs, the sudden switch to Zoom and other kinds of videoconferencing tools because of the pandemic offered a bigger hurdle.

“Thankfully, we have a great IT department," Clarke said. "It’s been a challenge, (but) we got everything in place quickly."

A graduate of Mount St. Joseph University outside of Cincinnati, Clarke worked as a legal assistant and in the community-relations department at Mount Carmel East hospital before arriving at Dublin.

In retirement, Clarke said, she plans to spend more time with her children, Tom Clarke, who lives in California, and her daughter, Amy Stieg, a Dublin resident, as well as her seven grandchildren, who are range in age from 9 months to 17 years.

“I’ve been preparing for some time, the last year or so, to retire, (but) it will be different not being (at City Hall),” Clarke said.

But Clarke does not plan to be absent from Dublin.

“Dublin is such a great place for so many reasons," she said. "I look forward to (remain) living here."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo