Eau Claire (WQOW) - The City of Eau Claire seems to be growing and changing every day, and for the last 30 years, City Clerk Donna Austad has seen it all.
But now, she's getting ready to hang up her hat.
23 years as Eau Claire's city clerk, dozens of elections and hundreds of city council meetings, and now, Austad is saying goodbye to city hall and saying hello to retirement.
Dale Peters, Eau Claire's city manager, said the city has been extremely well served over the last three decades. “She's loyal, she's humble, she's competent, and the city has been extremely well served, and the electorate has been very well served by her for the last 30 years,” Austad said. "Donna is a remarkable individual and an outstanding example of a public servant."
Austad said, “In a lot of respects the clerk is a link for the community.”
Over the last 20 years, Austad has walked the city through numerous changes, including how we vote. “When I first started, we had large lever machines that weighed half a ton, literally. You still see, I'm not sure if anyone is using them anymore, but the large machines where you would go in and flip the lever down,” Austad said.
Another big change she's proud of is pushing the city council to go paperless. “We were running in the range of, I think, about three dozen, 40 packets for every council meeting. A small one if we're under a hundred pages, we think we're doing good, in the spring time they can get up to three hundred pages. So that was a lot of paper that we were going through,” Austad said.
While her days in city hall are coming to an end, Austad said she hopes community involvement continues on, especially when it comes to hitting the polls. “Be involved in the city, we've got boards and committees that we need their input in. You can be involved, you can make a difference,” Austad said. “If you don't vote, don't complain.”
Austad's official last day will be next Thursday, she said she doesn't have any big trips planned just yet, and it kind of feels like she's just going on vacation.