For 22 years Sandy King has documented Wilsonville's city business, condensing official proceedings into concise, informative meeting minutes.
While she has gone mostly unnoticed during City Council meetings and planning commission discussions during that time, you might have heard the repetitive rapping of her keyboard if you listened carefully during lulls in debate — her words providing the proof of the city's rationale and decision-making that has made Wilsonville the place it is today.
While King says she's greatly enjoyed the past 22 years, she knows better than everyone that every story has an end. She finished up her final day as Wilsonville's city recorder Tuesday, July 5, marking the end of an eventful career. King says the decision to retire wasn't easy, but that she's happy she can walk away with positive memories of her long career.
"You don't make these decisions easily, and you want to be prepared, but I think you also have to be ready in your head to do it," she says. "Emily Post said that you should always leave the party when you're still having fun, so that's what I'm doing. I still really enjoy what I'm doing, I still really enjoy working for the city, but it's time to do something different."
King, originally from Illinois, moved all around the United States as a child, but settled down in Park City, Utah, for a period in the early 1980s. She found work as a dispatcher for the police department, but when the police chief recommended she apply for the city recorder position, King says she found a profession she was truly passionate about.
"I found it really enjoyable, just being able to learn about the city through the history and reading the minutes, and being able to have a bit of an effect on what happened, but still always staying behind the scenes," King says. "It was a really enjoyable thing because you never knew what was going to happen next. It went in cycles, but you never know what the day is going to bring. It's one of those types of positions."
She married and moved to Southern California, taking a brief hiatus from her job as a city clerk to work in the legal field and as a records manager, but soon realized she wanted back into the profession. King and her husband then moved to Southern Oregon, but when she saw Wilsonville had an opening for its city recorder position, she jumped at the opportunity. The rest, like King's writing, is history.
"I immediately liked how progressive Wilsonville was, even from its location on the Willamette River as sort of cutting edge and the entrance to the Metro area," King says. "(Wilsonville) has been fortunate to have the management staff that they've had in the past and the forward-thinking managers and councils that have made Wilsonville what is today. Just looking at the first land use maps, it's amazing at how thoughtful those original plans were."
King remembers many city proceedings from the past 22 years, and if she can't recall an incident she can just look at the very minutes she wrote herself, but says the development of Town Center over the years and building of Murase Plaza stand out. She remembers controversial topics, like the water treatment plant, Villebois and the siting of Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, always savoring the opportunity to document those decisions in detail.
Despite years of experience, King says she always made sure to work towards improvement, mastering the seemingly impossible task of condensing a five-hour meeting into a few pages of clear and informative text. As city recorder King was also responsible for elections and records management, but says it was processing city documents and writing meeting minutes that she enjoyed the most.
"You have to constantly work on professional development," King says. "I try to think, 100 years from now, what is somebody going to want to know? I try to put all that important information in, but make it so that it's not verbatim yet is enough information should somebody go back and research. It's a happy medium of including enough information but not too much."
King, who lives just outside of Oregon City in Clackamas County, says she plans to travel with her husband and visit her sisters and grandchildren in the South now that she's retired. She plans to volunteer with a variety of organizations, and says she'll continue to read as much as she can in her free time. King says she's looking forward to the future, but will miss the past she helped record as well.
"Clerks are the type of people who are sort of in the background. We're behind the scenes and that's the way we want to keep it," King says. "I'll miss the people that I've worked with over the years and I'll miss being a member of the Oregon Association of Municipal Recorders — those people that are in the business and really have a passion for it. All of those people are what I'll miss the most."