Knowing the unique challenges that come with her position, Horseshoe Bay City Secretary Kerri Craig, along with four others, created a four-part webinar to help those new to the job prepare for the complex and ever-changing role.
The program, City Secretary 101, was first presented Oct. 9, 2020. Each part is 30 minutes long, and Craig’s portion helps city secretaries prepare for council meetings and other open meetings.
“It’s designed for new secretaries and gives information they would find helpful,” said Craig, who has been with the city of Horseshoe Bay since 2016. “There are laws around open meetings. City secretaries are very closely tied to the laws. We have to ensure we stay up to date on the laws. I’m trained to be up on those laws.”
Other presenters were city secretaries Laura Calcote of Wimberley, Shelley Goodwin of Fredericksburg, and Thomas Harris III of Sugar Land. Llano City Manager Erica Berry helped with the presentations. Craig said she polled other city secretaries to ensure the webinar gave the training that was needed.
Craig recalled attending her first council meeting as the Dripping Springs city secretary in 2014 and thinking she was prepared to do her part for the 17-item agenda. The meeting ended in nine minutes. Craig noted her struggles and issues and then tried to address each one. She’s become much more experienced as a city secretary, but through the webinar, she hopes to help new city secretaries avoid some of those struggles.
Craig noted that some might believe city secretaries are more like administrative assistants, but that’s an inaccurate assumption. Craig said a city secretary’s role resembles the U.S. Secretary of State or the Texas Secretary of State for which legal and legislative research is important. City secretaries in Texas also must keep up with the changes in laws that happen every two years when the Legislature is in session.
“You have to work with your city attorney and city manager,” Craig said.
Something else that people might not know is that each city in Texas is required by law to have a municipal clerk, which is commonly known as the city secretary. That position is the only one required by law once a city incorporates.
“It’s varied and complex, and no two city secretaries are alike,” Craig said. “I’m appointed by the City Council. I report to the City Council and the city manager. I love working for a public organization. (The Horseshoe Bay city government) is really a unique place to work. They show their appreciation. It’s genuine.”