Diane Wright accepts city clerk position

By Melissa Mastrogiovanni

After working in the city clerk’s office for six years, Diane Wright accepted an appointment as the new DeKalb City Clerk.

Prior to working in DeKalb, Wright lived in Landcaster, Ca. and worked in the city government there for 15 years.

“When my husband and I retired, we knew we were coming back to the Midwest,” Wright said. “I missed the seasons.”

Wright was hired to work part-time by the former DeKalb City Clerk Donna Johnson, to attend all city council meetings and record the minutes. Working part-time, Wright said she enjoyed the flexibility in her schedule because she was able to spend time gardening and seeing her three grown children and grandchildren.

“I did not want full-time,” Wright said. “When Steve [Kapitan] resigned, I really was taken aback. I had no idea and they asked me to come in and if I could put in more hours.”

Wright said she was approached by the DeKalb City Manager Mark Biernacki when Kapitan resigned and was asked if she would be willing to “step up” and fill in for the city clerk’s position. Wright said she was willing.

Later, Wright said she was told the City was going to have to fill the last 15 months of Kapitan’s position with an appointment.

“I never thought I would want to do it, but then after I’d been doing this for a week, I believed I was the best person for the job. I’ve been here six years,” Wright said. “I know what’s going on. If anyone new was coming in, there would be a huge training period. It would really be difficult and it’s a real difficult time for the city right now and for this office.”

Since taking the appointment, Wright said she is working about 60 hours a week. Wright said the city will not hire a new deputy city clerk and is currently looking for a new part-time administrative associate. The administrative associate position will allow flexibility to help the other departments, Wright said. However, the city clerk will be able to “deputize” the administrative associate. In July the city will then hire another part-time administrative associate.

“For me right now, I’m very stretched because we do have deadlines for getting certain things done,” Wright said. “We have very strict deadlines and there are constantly things that come up.”

Wright said she processes Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and must respond in a timely manner. She must also go to every city council meeting and write the minutes, which also has to be done on time, Wright said.

“There are a lot of time issues,” Wright said. “That’s a difficult thing but I’m meeting all my deadlines, I’m happy to say. It’s a transition period right now, that’s been challenging.”

However, everyone in the city has been extremely supportive and offering help when needed, Wright said.

“I was really pleased to see her step up,” said DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen. “I think her experience was why she gained unanimous support from the council.”

Wright said her experience in working in municipal government has always been her “strength.”

“I’ve known her when she first started with us six years ago,” Biernacki said. “I find her to be very knowledgeable.”

Wright said she does not plan to seek re-election in April 2013.

“When we have the election, I’m stepping down,” Wright said. “I’m not running. I do not live in DeKalb. I’m stepping down and I will gladly support whoever is the new clerk. At that time I’ll probably stay on as a part-time administrative associate.”

Wright said she wants to go back to part-time because of the greater flexibility in her schedule.

“I want to get back to my gardening and my grandchildren,” Wright said.