Brenda Jacober looked out the window of her first-floor city clerk’s office at Kent City Hall and thought back to when she first took a part-time job with the city in 1975.
“I looked around and thought it would be a nice place to spend my days,” said Jacober during an interview earlier this month at her office. “Little did I know I’d spend a lot of them.”
Jacober saw the part-time day job as a secretary in the city clerk’s office as a good fit as the married mother of a young child. Staying with the city for 35 years never crossed her mind.
“I had no idea,” Jacober said. “I didn’t think that far ahead in those days.”
Jacober has spent the last 19 years as the city clerk, after jobs as a secretary and deputy city clerk. She keeps track of all of the city records, sends out public notices about meetings, hearings and bids and works closely with the City Council to provide agendas, minutes of meetings and other information.
“I consider it a really lucky break that I ended up here,” Jacober said. “I enjoy clerical work and I’ve always enjoyed the people I work with. I like my supportive role to the mayor, Council and department heads.”
Despite 19 years as the city clerk, Jacober still ranks behind the three previous city clerks as far as years of service.
L.E. Price worked 35 years as the city clerk from 1908 to 1943 followed by the 22 years of Charles “Brick” Bridges from 1943 to 1965 and the 26 years of Marie Jensen from 1965 to 1991.
“People tend to stay here a long time,” Jacober said about the clerks.
So how much longer does Jacober plan to stay?
“I can’t tell you how many more years,” said Jacober, 62. “I have no plans of retiring. I like it here a lot. The people are what I come back to. The people are so nice and good to work with from the department heads to the people they hire.”
Fellow employees appreciate Jacober as well.
“She’s the most steady employee I know,” said John Hodgson, city chief administrative officer, who first met Jacober when he started at the city 16 years ago as parks director. “She’s a very dedicated professional and is always there for her duties. With her years of service, she has knowledge of everything that has gone on in the city. But she not only has the history, she also reminds us of what’s next and what has to get done.”
Hodgson cannot help but shake his head at Jacober’s many years with the city.
“It’s amazing to serve in one place that long,” he said. “In my 30 years of work I’ve been in three cities. She’s been in one community that long in pretty much the same job.”
Hodgson sees Jacober display the same positive attitude day after day.
“She shows an interest and enthusiasm for her job even after 35 years,” he said.
Kent had a population of about 17,000 when Jacober started with the city in 1975. Kent’s current population of 88,380 will jump by another 24,000 when the city annexes the Panther Lake area July 1.
“There are more people down here,” Jacober said about the streets around City Hall. “The Regional Justice Center brought in a lot of people and so did Kent Station.”
Jacober remembers when Fourth Avenue came to a dead end near James Street; when a parking lot sat where the city’s Centennial Building now stands across from City Hall; and when one half of the Council Chambers served as the municipal court.
“The east side of the Council Chambers was the courtroom,” she said. “There were stairs up to the second level where the judge had his chambers. He would come down the steps to the courtroom.”
Change is fine with Jacober.
“It’s progress,” she said. “Over 35 years, things are going to change.”
That includes the advances in technology. Jacober remembers spreading out stacks of papers for the Council agenda packets and taking one off of each stack to staple together a packet. Now the packets are compiled on a computer and printed in a notebook.
“Before we also had to page through the minutes of meetings to look up something,” Jacober said. “Now we just punch in a word and it pops up.”
Outside of work, Jacober has been married for 40 years to Del Jacober, who retired three years ago from Boeing.
“When I go home, he has dinner ready,” said Jacober, who has lived for 22 years in Covington. “We moved out there because it was the country. We watched another city grow.”
Jacober, who grew up in Wyoming, and her husband have two adult children in the Seattle area as well as a 3-year-old granddaughter.
“It’s good to have them around,” Jacober said. “We get to see them quite often.”