A sunny beach on the Cayman Islands awaits Tracy Davis’ first days of retirement after July 13. Davis will close out her career as Keizer’s longest-serving City Recorder after more than 30 years in the position.
Davis will be missed by the people who work in City Hall as well as the city council. She is the keeper of the information and records for the city. Her institutional and historical memory has kept the ship of government on a even keel for decades.
Her hallmark has been an unwavering dedication to transparency and openness. In an interview in 2022 Davis said, “One of my main goals in my job is to make sure that the citizens have access to their local government.”
She sees the position as the customer service portion of governance. “I feel like my job and my goal has always been to help our citizens understand their local government and to make sure that they know how to be a part of their local government,” she said.
About 99% of everything that goes on in the city comes through the City Recorder’s department in one way or another. Davis said, “I try to make the volunteers’ (and) the city councilors’ jobs easier by doing everything I can to support them and provide them with information they need to make the great decisions.”
The best part of the recorder’s job for Davis was the people.
“I love people. I mean, I’m a people person so I really enjoyed interacting with the citizens, the employees and the numerous Council members,” she said.
Besides people, there were memorable and challenging times. It was hard for Davis to choose one particularly challenging day, opting instead to mention years.
“Probably 2020 to 2021: the cyber attacks, the city manager issue, the wildfires, COVID; you know, just name it. I think those were really frustrating times, it was a challenge, but we survived.
“Pivot became the new word. Let’s see how we can pivot and how can we keep transparent government open being closed down. A lot of creative thinking, which I like. Creative thinking and brainstorming as a team; that’s really important to me as the team atmosphere and brainstorming, how can we do this better and do it right?” she added.
An aspect of the job she liked was that nothing was routine. “It’s constant, something’s new, it’s coming in or we’re going to do this; government moves slow.”
Davis liked the variety of things she was involved with. She handled insurance and the volunteers. Management of the community center was added to her duties in 2011, but a dedicated employee now does that job full-time.
Tracy Davis is a fan of the City of Keizer. “It’s an awesome place to work. The people here care about the citizens. I will miss my work family tremendously.”
As for her successor, Melissa Bisset, Davis has few words of advice, since Bisset has been doing similar work in both Canby and McMinnville. “She’s excited,” she said. “She’ll work great. I mean, new city manager, new city recorder, you’re going to have a new city attorney and chief of police. It’s a new era for the city of Keizer.”
Davis has plenty of fans of her own.
City Manager Adam Brown wrote, “Tracy has been part of the fabric of the City of Keizer. Her influence is seen and felt in everything that has happened over the past 30 years. She is loved by her peers, coworkers and the council.”
“Tracy’s thoughtful attention to detail takes into account not only the logistics, but also the human element of any dealings that happen at City Hall,” said Councilor Laura Reid. “She’s just patient and considerate with everyone and always has a cheery smile and words of encouragement for everyone. She is the glue that holds all the cogs of City Hall together.”
Cathy Clark (the fifth mayor Davis has worked with) was effusive with her comments. “Tracy is a consummate professional, recognized for her expertise and her willingness to share, train, mentor and advance the critical work of city recorders. Public information and accurate records, well-run election processes, and outstanding Council management are essential to an open and accountable system of governance. And Tracy strives for Keizer to excel in these areas.”
A good city recorder, Davis says, has to walk a fine line because they don’t want to get their nose too deep in the politics of what’s going on, but also be knowledgeable enough to support what’s going on. “(A city recorder) needs to be organized and keep those balls in the air. And (be) a good people person.”
After July 13 Davis will not be completely out of the city recorder world. She will continue to serve for three years on the International Institute of Municipal Clerks’ (IIMC) foundation board, which is the fundraising arm of the organization. She held numerous leadership roles with both the IIMC and the Oregon Association of Municipal Recorders.
Her post-retirement volunteer work will include serving on the board of Haley’s Heroes, a Salem-based non-profit working on research and a cure for Batten’s, a children’s disease disease.
Her role as grandmother will keep her busy each Friday, as she tends to her daughter, Minda’s, and her son Drew’s children. Both her children live in the mid-valley area. Davis has five grandchildren.
When she leaves Keizer City Hall for the last time she will take good wishes from her city peers and city councilors. A wave of appreciation and respect will carry her to the white sandy beaches of the Cayman Islands for the start of a well-deserved retirement.