Government and Human Resources

Grand Rapids' city clerk is retiring

January 22, 2018
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Darlene O'Neal
Darlene O'Neal. Courtesy City of Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids’ city clerk plans to retire after 33 years of public service.

Darlene O’Neal, who was appointed city clerk in 2014, is retiring on Feb. 13.

The Grand Rapids City Commission is expected to appoint an acting city clerk before O’Neal’s retirement.

Grand Rapids’ city clerk is not an elected position. It is one of four city commission appointments. The other appointed positons are city manager, city treasurer and city attorney.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said O’Neal brought “a high level of professionalism and customer service” to the city clerk’s office.

“Darlene has been an exceptional city clerk, and she is leaving a lasting impact on the department and our city,” Bliss said. “She welcomed technology that improved services and brought services directly to the community. She made the clerk’s office more accessible to our residents by expanding office hours and holding satellite services at community open houses. Through these efforts, she made it easier for residents to engage with city government.

“We are grateful for her passion, dedication and service to our community.”

O’Neal said she found success by keeping service to others at the forefront of her role.

“When I think of public service, it is important to lead with people in mind,” O’Neal said. “If you lead with yourself in mind, I feel your priorities are in the wrong place. However, if you lead with people in mind and lead with your heart, commitment and loyalty to people, great things will naturally come to you.”

O’Neal’s background

O’Neal began her career in 1985 as a clerk typist in the city’s Housing Inspections Department.

She has worked in a number of city offices: assessor; payroll; the housing commission; parking services; parks and recreation and special events; and engineering and sidewalks; and city clerk.

She has served on various boards in the community and volunteered as a mentor to young adults.

O’Neal holds a master of public administration degree from Grand Valley State University and a bachelor’s degree in business management, with minors in communication and political science, from Davenport College, now Davenport University. 

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