7 Habits of a Highly Effective City Clerk

The 7 habits of highly effective city councilors and aldermen.
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What does it take to become a highly effective city clerk? Get the advice from former Des Plaines, Ill., City Clerk Gloria Ludwig.

It’s the International Institute of Municipal Clerks’ (IIMC) Municipal Clerks Week, and a good time to dive into the best habits of a highly effective city clerk.

Being a city clerk takes organization and dedication. Because the city clerk’s office operates as a municipal public information and resource center, cultivating the best habits can make a clerk more effective at managing records, distributing information at council or administrator meetings — and in the crucial role of running elections.

Outgoing Des Plaines, Ill., City Clerk Gloria Ludwig, who reached her two-term limit this year, offered EfficientGov her seven habits of a highly effective city clerk.

“As city clerk, I am the record keeper. We keep records of minutes, ordinances, resolutions, contracts, agreements and many other documents pertinent to local government.” But, there are many other duties and responsibilities of the office, she wrote.

According to IIMC, additional responsibilities typically include issuing licenses and permits, keeping community history, managing correspondence from citizens and other governmental agencies, preparing tax rolls, special assessments and budgets, providing purchasing and other services and more.

While running for re-election in 2013, Ludwig described for Des Plaines Patch how as city clerk, she stayed connected. “I stay informed of citizens’ concerns by participating in events at schools, faith-based organizations and non-profit organizations. I work with the media to ensure Des Plaines citizens receive relevant news and information,” she said.

Here is Ludwig’s advice on how to stay a focused and highly effective city clerk.

Habit #1: Stay Educated

Take advantage of any and all opportunities to attend educational workshops and/or conferences as well as online.

Habit #2: Affiliate with the Pros

Join and participate in professional organizations.

Habit #3: Communicate Regularly

Communicate through articles in newsletters and newspapers with constituents, and keep [residents] apprised of what’s going on and what they need to know.

Habit #4: Reach out to Communities

Participate in community organizations and projects.

Habit #5: Promote Successes

Talk about positive events or make an appearance at a community event to promote ‘the good.’

Habit #6: Engage Citizens

Find ways at community events to connect constituents to their governments.

Habit #7:  Review Processes

Leverage continuing education opportunities to continuously improve office procedures and processes.


Ludwig just completed eight years as Des Plaines city clerk, so what did she do? Went to Disney World of course! EfficientGov would like to wish Ludwig the best and the same to new Des Plaines City Clerk Jennifer Tsalapatanis as she begins her term this month.

What habits are critical to your role as an elected official or municipal staff? Please reach out and let us know at editor@efficientgov.com.

Read more habits:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective City Councilors & Aldermen

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.