With competitive races for mayor and most of the City Council districts, Bloomington voters may be inclined to skip past the checkbox for City Clerk, where the incumbent, Nicole Bolden, is the only candidate, for an office that’s poorly understood. But that would be unfortunate.
The representative democracy we have in Indiana cities is based on the trust that what happens in meetings of elected and appointed public officials gets accurately and reliably recorded. The capture of those records for the City Council (and some city commissions) is the responsibility of the City Clerk’s office.
Bloomingtonians differ on whether we have real transparency in city government, especially under the current administration. But what’s said in meetings can be retrieved and confirmed, and that’s not a small benefit.
Bolden has been in the clerk’s office since 2009. She’s the first state-accredited municipal clerk Bloomington has had. She’s done a creditable job at it and deserves recognition for her diligence and her inclination to continuously improve and professionalize her team.
Many of us encounter her only at intervals during Council meetings, when she’s asked to read back the text of some amendment or call the roll on a vote. But in addition to her records management function, the City Clerk’s duties include:
- Processing parking ticket appeals — essential if not always fun.
- Weddings — Bolden has performed hundreds of them since she was deputized in 2010. It’s her favorite part of the job, she says.
- Records requests — Retrieving records requested by journalists or citizens is the responsibility of the Clerk’s office. Some might quibble about the time it takes to retrieve certain kinds of records, but Bolden has been working to automate and speed up as much of the process as possible. And it should be recognized that the Clerk doesn’t handle all the commissions’ records. Housing-related record requests, for example, should go to the Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) Department, not the Clerk’s office.
Bolden heads up a team of four — herself, a Chief Deputy and two deputy clerks. She’s working to get the entire team certified for their expertise.
Records retention and management is one of those functions in organizations that holds the whole system together but often goes unsung. But go ahead — check the box for Nicole Bolden. She, and the office, deserve the recognition.
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