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Santa Rosa City Clerk Terri Griffin retiring

Santa Rosa City Clerk Terri Griffin, the city’s top election official, is retiring after 24 years in public service.

A low-key but widely respected figure in city government, Griffin was praised during last week’s City Council meeting for her deep knowledge of election law and work to overhaul the city’s election code.

“We have been most fortunate to have somebody of Terri’s caliber,” City Attorney Caroline Fowler said.

Fowler said a key part of Griffin’s job has been “dealing with challenging personalities” who are running for public office.

“I have never heard anybody make one complaint in all the time that Terri has been here and nothing but gracious comments about her willingness to help people,” Fowler said.

Griffin, 54, began working for the city in 1992 as a legal secretary in the City Attorney’s Office, later becoming office administrator. In 2006, she took the deputy city clerk position in Rohnert Park, later becoming clerk.

She returned to Santa Rosa to be city clerk in 2011. During that time she has implemented new software that streamlined management of city legislative agendas, documents and videos.

She also worked to update the city’s regulations governing robocalls and with the city’s Open Government Task Force on drafting a yet-to-be implemented sunshine ordinance for the city.

But helping candidates navigate the maze of campaign finance rules and other required disclosures has been one of the most enjoyable elements of her job.

“I love the whole election process. It’s the most terrifying and exciting part of clerk work,” she said.

Griffin’s last day on the job was Thursday.

Each of the two council elections she presided over had particular challenges. In 2012, a write-in candidate, Jeremiah Jeff Love, threw Griffin a last-minute curve ball. And in 2014, two candidates who didn’t live in Santa Rosa, Colleen Fernald and Keith Rhinehart, used city addresses of questionable veracity to qualify for the ballot.

Griffin, who made a base salary of $115,047, said it was a difficult decision to retire early, but said she wanted to pursue other passions. She plans to travel with her parents, who live in Sebastopol, work on voter outreach efforts, become a certified naturalist, and spend more time bird watching.

And, she said, she’d like to be able to put a campaign sign on her lawn if she’s so inclined.

Deputy City Clerk Stephanie Williams has been appointed interim city clerk.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @srcitybeat.

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