Terri Hudson has been a familiar face at City Council meetings for many years in her role as Milford City Clerk. In fact, she was appointed to the position in July 1997 after working in the position for several months. Recently, Ms. Hudson was selected as the Delaware Clerk of the Year by the Delaware Municipal Clerks Association. City Manager, Eric Norenberg, nominated Ms. Hudson for the award with the assistance of Deputy Clerk, Christine Crouch. The selection was made by the Delaware Municipal Association Member working in conjunction with the Delaware League of Local Government.
“I was hired in 1978 to work with the Sussex County Crime Analysis Unit, a federally funded program awarded to the Milford Police Department,” Ms. Hudson said when asked how she came to work for the City of Milford. “The unit shared their office with the Parks and Recreation Director, which was located, at the time, on the second floor above the old Alderman Court, which is now the site of the current Milford Public Library. Milford’s City Clerk had resigned after being here for several years. When someone new was hired to replace her, it was recommended that I consider transferring to City Hall to take the City Clerk position and that her replacement be transferred to the Police Department as the Assistant to the Chief of Police. Both of us remain in those positions today.”
Ms. Hudson said that she handled the duties for a few months before City Council actually appointed her. It was then that she realized how much was involved in being a City Clerk. She began researching training opportunities and found many resources. She said there was no clerk or employee at City Hall who could guide her on what she had to do as the City Clerk.
“That is when I started my municipal clerk educational journey,” Ms. Hudson said. “So much has changed over the years. The whole election process has changed, records management has changed and there is a demand for more accountability and transparency. We are constantly trying to establish ways to improve in those areas.”
Technology is one of the areas where Ms. Hudson has seen the greatest change. She said that computers, digital records and cell phones have had a tremendous impact on her duties as clerk. She said she remembers the big desktop computers in the 1990s and the shift from paper to digital filing.
“I also remember wondering how electronic mail was going to work,” she said. “Today, we could not do our jobs without it.” Ms. Hudson credits the networking opportunities through the Delaware Clerks Association and the International Association with being a significant help in her position. She said that Council or the City Manager may need information on what we think is a unique topic and within minutes of sending out an email to municipal clerks, we often find a number of other communities have already addressed the issue which helps us greatly.”
Ms. Hudson said that finding time to get everything done is one of the biggest challenges she faces as City Clerk. She said there is a wide variety of issues that cross her desk each day and she is the type of person that wants it handled right away. She said it is difficult for her to leave things hanging or put it aside until the next day.
“My office is expected, and I want to be able to provide, the information quickly, efficiently and openly,” Ms. Hudson said. “I am particularly proud of the efficiency of this office. Today, we are able to serve the public in a much faster manner. Several years ago, I asked City Council to approve funding for a records management/document imaging software program. It was budgeted that year. Today, we receive so many compliments on our quick turnaround time responding to FOIA requests. The switch from paper Council packets to an electronic packet was a major stepping stone. Mayor and City Council have been using laptops for a little more than ten years.” Ms. Hudson said that before the electronic versions, packets which range between 100 and 200 pages had to be printed. The electronic versions save on paper and copy costs since nine copies must be provided for Mayor and Council before each meeting. It also allows the packets to be posted online for access by the public both prior to and after each meeting.
Ms. Hudson is married to former Police Chief, Keith Hudson, who retired last year. Ms. Hudson said that she has thought about retiring but is “not there yet.”
“Our second grandchild was born on September 3, so we have recently experienced some major changes in our personal lives,” Ms. Hudson said. “Fortunately, both our daughter and son’s families live in the City, so we are able to see them on a regular basis. Last year, our now four-year old granddaughter was in preschool in Lewes, which made things a little more difficult. At this point, we will just have to see what happens.”
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