By James Feichtner
Keeping a city government flowing seamlessly is a large responsibility. With so many people relying on you for information and answers it may seem like a heavy burden to carry, but for Lawrence City Clerk Kathleen Walton she wouldn’t change her job for the world.
“I like that I provide a lot of information, because I’m like the information center,” Walton said. “Everybody calls me for this and that, and of course now I’m going to get all new councilors in January and they will all rely on me because I’m the continuity that’s always been here that knows what’s going on in the parliamentary procedures.”
Growing up in a military family, Walton spent a lot of time moving around until moving to Lawrence in 1963. Being born in Japan of an American father and an English mother, Walton has quite the diverse background; something she says helps her in her current position as the only elected city clerk in Lawrence city history.
“I just get along with people, and maybe it’s my military background,” Walton said. “I’ve grown up with people all my life. You move every three years and you get used to that new type of environment. Sometimes people have trouble getting along with people and there’s no reason for that.”
Now in her fourth term as Lawrence City Clerk, Walton goes above and beyond her mandated role to help serve the people of Lawrence.
“I love serving my community and I help everybody no matter what,” Walton said. “I go way out of the scope of what this job is because I’m totally involved 100 percent.”
While working at Union Central Bank, Walton originally became involved with her local government after being asked to get participate as a committeeman.
“When I was at the bank somebody asked me to be a precinct committeeman, which I didn’t even know what that meant then, and once I got into that role and going and helping out with elections I really enjoyed it,” Walton said.
Being a math whiz in college, Walton eventually got involved with payroll of the city. After being trained by the at-the-time current clerk-treasurer, she began getting involved with state and international municipal organizations.
“I became part of payroll and part of the budget process for the city,” Walton said. “The clerk treasurer took me under her wing. Eventually I became the deputy clerk treasurer then started joining all these statewide organizations; The Indiana League of Municipal Treasurers, The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks. I went to all their conferences and went to State Board of Accounts School.”
As Lawrence made the move from a third-class city to a second-class, Walton took on the new role as city clerk. As a second-class city, the role of clerk-treasurer is split into an elected controller and a city clerk.
“I assumed that role in January of 2004,” Walton said. “I had the task of splitting up what a clerk does versus the financial side, so I brought all the ordinances’ books down here and the minutes for every board and commissions (meeting); I consolidated all those records.”
As the city clerk, Walton likes to think of herself as a facilitator behind the scenes making sure everyone is following the rules.
“I consider myself like Switzerland and sort of the liaison between the council and the administration,” Walton said. “I don’t have a vote and they can’t pound on me for influence for a vote. I just do the work and work every day and work hard and people, I think, appreciate that. That’s why a lot of people don’t know what a clerk does because we just quietly do things and keep everything done.”
Walton loves to serve the people of Lawrence through her role as city clerk and continues to go above and beyond to get the job done. She says she doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon.
“At some point I’ll learn to say, ‘no,’ but I don’t see that happening because I enjoy it, and if I can be of help to people then I might as well,” she said.
Walton’s Professional Qualifications and Involvement
- Indiana Accredited Municipal Clerk – 2004
- Certified Municipal Clerk – 2012
- Master Municipal Clerk – 2015
- Member Indiana League of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers
- Member International Institute of Municipal Clerks
- Member – Indiana Association of Cities and Towns
All about Walton
Lives: Lawrence since 1963
Family: Husband, Chuck. Children, Tim and Molly and three grandchildren
Education: Lawrence Central High School. BS in Business Administration, minor in marketing
Hobbies: Spending time in Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park, bike riding, playing with grandkids.