Lawrence clerk looks back on two decades of service


For the past two decades, Kathleen Walton has served the City of Lawrence as city clerk. At the end of this month, she will leave the office she’s held since 2004.

Newly elected Lawrence City Clerk Leatrice Adkisson, a Democrat, will take office in January.

Walton’s time as city clerk spanned four terms, but her journey into municipal service began in 1993, when she was working for Federal Union Bank.

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Walton, a Republican, said a vendor approached her with an interesting proposition: become the vice precinct committeeman.

“I’m like, ‘I don’t even know what a vice precinct committeeman does, but that’s fine,’” Walton said.

With a background in financial management, Walton later transitioned to working for the City of Lawrence in 1996. Initially, she was involved with payroll before becoming deputy clerk-treasurer. When Lawrence transitioned from a third-class to a second-class city, Walton became the first elected city clerk in the 2003 municipal election.

As city clerk, Walton managed and secured the city’s records. She said the responsibilities often are unnoticed by the public.

“You do a lot of work behind the scenes that people don’t really know that you do,” Walton said. “You’re essentially like a secretary to the council.”

Walton’s duties included preparing meeting agendas, coordinating with the council president, recording meeting minutes and attending committee meetings.

Beyond her day-to-day tasks, Walton played a pivotal role in developing Lawrence’s policies, ordinances and legislation through engagement with various councils and boards. She also maintained the official minutes and records of city boards and responded to public information requests from citizens and diverse stakeholders.

Walton said that during her first term, she fell in love with the job. Regularly facilitating communication between the administration, mayor’s office and the council, she saw herself as a crucial link between the entities.

“You’re the bridge between the administration and the mayor’s office and the council,” Walton said. “If the council has something they want to relay to the administration, then I talk to them. If the administration has something they want to get to the council, then I forward it back to the council and email them.”

Walton was reelected in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. Her contributions to the city included compiling crucial information, such as the boards and commissions list for the City of Lawrence and assisting in the codification of the municipal code in 2008.

Walton said that after her term as city clerk ends in January, she looks forward to a well-deserved break.

“I’m not going to do anything for a while. I think I’m just going to rest,” Walton said. “I’m still going to help out around the city with different things like the Police Merit Commission. I’ll probably volunteer for different things and do stuff for my grandkids’ school and just kind of chill out.”

Born in Japan, Walton lived in Minneapolis, Minn., and Mannheim, Germany, before settling in the City of Lawrence in 1963. She has a husband, Chuck; daughter, Molly; son, Tim; and three grandchildren.

A Lawrence Central High School graduate, Walton has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Indiana University through IUPUI. She has been an active volunteer in organizations such as the Boys Scouts of America and Oaklandon Youth Organization.