Retiring city clerk watched city grow

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published January 9, 2013

 Retiring Rochester Hills City Clerk Jane Leslie first began working for the city, then Avon Township, in 1981.

Retiring Rochester Hills City Clerk Jane Leslie first began working for the city, then Avon Township, in 1981.

Photo by Linda Shepard

ROCHESTER HILLS — When looking for a job close to home in 1981, Jane Leslie found a position in the offices of Avon Township.

“I’ve lived in the area all my life,” Leslie said. “I graduated from Rochester High School, and I worked in my parents’ greenhouse. I was looking for a change.”

Leslie, who is retiring as the Rochester Hills city clerk this month, watched Avon Township become Rochester Hills and grow by leaps and bounds. “In 1984, (residents) voted to become a city,” she said.

Leslie became city clerk in 2005, taking over the office that conducts federal, state and local elections, and maintains voter registrations records, among other duties. Elections are always a challenge, she said.

“Laws and procedures change. There are always tweaks,” she said. “And they bring things up to speed with technology.” Optical election equipment replaced punch cards in 1995, eliminating the “dangling chads” that caused controversy in the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

“Michigan has been ahead of the curve in election law,” she said. “Michigan is one of four states where local municipalities conduct the election and it is not done at the county level.”

The records of the city are also under the care of the clerk. “Councils, boards and committees — we keep all the paperwork and post all the notices,” Leslie said. “We prepare packets and minutes. We have a team that does that, and they are quite busy.”

Digitizing records has created availability for all, she said. 

“Our councils have been very adamant about making things as transparent as possible,” she said. Record keeping has progressed steadily from when Leslie typed all reports in triplicate with the use of carbon paper on a typewriter. “Technology has made huge changes,” she said.

Along with overseeing all city cemeteries, the Clerk’s Office also keeps birth and death records and processes passport applications. “We work with the state very closely on that,” she said.

“Jane has done a fantastic job here at the city for many years,” Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said. “She has a sense of calm and order in an office where it is not easy to maintain calm and order. I’ve never seen her frazzled.”

A new city clerk will be named at the end of the month, Barnett said. “Applications are closed,” he said, and a review process is currently in place.

Leslie said that in retirement she will most miss her co-workers, but she’s making plans to travel, spend time with her grandchildren and garden.

“The people here are fabulous,” she said. “They are just really, really nice. Bryan and the city directors are all very people-oriented. I just can’t say enough about the people here.”