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City clerk becomes first in Durango’s history to earn master clerk certification

Faye Harmer rises to top 10% of municipal bookkeepers in Colorado
Faye Harmer, city of Durango municipal clerk, holds her master municipal clerk certificate on Wednesday at her office. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Durango city clerk Faye Harmer was recognized on Tuesday for achieving a prestigious master municipal clerk certification.

The award requires hundreds of hours of in-class and in-the-field training that about 10% of city clerks in the state of Colorado achieve.

Amy Phillips, who served as city clerk until January 2020 when Harmer took over, attended Tuesday’s Durango City Council meeting to congratulate her former understudy and present her with the certification.

Phillips said there are 377 municipal clerks in Colorado, and of those, 39 clerks have earned their master municipal clerk certifications. Harmer joined those ranks and was the first acting city clerk for the city of Durango to achieve her MMC.

“You’re amazing, Faye,” Phillips told Harmer. “But I have one question: Do you ever sleep?”

Harmer said in an interview on Wednesday she left the hospitality industry three and a half years ago to join the city clerk’s office in Durango without prior clerk experience. She first had to earn her certified municipal clerk certification before obtaining her master municipal clerk certification. Both certificates require between 350 and 400 hours of work.

Harmer said the city’s support of professional development contributed to her success.

“To go from knowing practically nothing about what a clerk does to having a master clerk certification because the city offers those kinds of opportunities,” she said.

The basic clerk certificate starts with classes about liquor, marijuana and general business licensing, as well as municipal court administration and municipal elections, she said. Open meeting laws, record requests and other statutory work are also required.

“A lot of our work is statutory based. It’s not optional what we get to do sometimes. We have to follow the law,” she said.

Earning a masters certificate is more of the same, but on steroids. For example, instead of just studying municipal elections and their procedures, she had to become a designated election official and oversee the city’s elections, she said.

Faye Harmer, Durango city clerk, is sworn into her role on March 26. She worked in the clerk’s office since January 2020 under her predecessor Amy Phillips. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald file)

“A good chunk of the masters certificate is also leadership based and community outreach based,” she said. “So it’s more than just, ‘Take 100 Zoom classes.’ You actually have to go out and do things and have proof of (that experience).”

The city’s executive leadership team participates in a growth and momentum learning series. Harmer hosted one of the segments, which took 12 hours of in-person training with the executive leadership team and eight hours of preparation. That earned her one out of 100 points needed to meet the requirements for a master municipal clerk certification, she said.

“That kind of gives you an idea of the kinds of things you have to do to actually achieve your masters certificate,” she said.


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