A virtual who's-who of government leaders, employees, and grateful residents lined the San Luis Obispo County Building Friday afternoon to wish farewell to one of the longest serving public servants in the county.
San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald is retiring from her long-held post Jan. 5. Friday was her last day on the job.
Colleagues threw her a going away bash featuring food, cake, mock voting booths and mementos, such as newspaper clippings from her first election to the job.
Rodewald, 59, is stepping down after 33 years in public service in the county, 20 of those as the top official in the Clerk-Recorder's Office.
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Among those who turned out to see her off were county Supervisor Bruce Gibson, County Assessor Tom Bordanaro, Jr., and Superior Court Judge Dodie Harman.
"She's really one of the best county clerks in the nation," former county Supervisor Shirley Bianchi said Friday. "When you look at election problems across the country, you really have to look no farther than San Luis Obispo to see how it's really done (right)."
State Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian dubbed Rodewald "the Queen of Elections," but noted her leadership style has led to outstanding customer service year-round.
"Her organization (skills) come through every step of the way," he said. "But under her leadership the office also has that touch of humankind. They're not just another government agency."
He added that the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder's Office is highly regarded not only locally, but in the state capital as well.
"Her reputation stretches straight to Sacramento. She's as trusted and respected there as she is here," Achadjian said. "She makes us all look good, really."
Incoming Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong praised his mentor for investing in her staff. "She has always been really proud and supportive of her staff. I think that's one of the legacies she leaves," Gong said. "She developed that staff -- and that's going to pay off for everyone well into the future."
And what does Rodewald think sets her office apart from other public agencies? "Nobody can argue we're not a bureaucracy, but that doesn't mean we have to be bureaucrats," Rodewald said. "It's so much easier to work with people when you take that attitude. That's the kind of stuff that makes us happy and that's the kind of service I'm sure they will continue to provide."
Rodewald plans to stay in the county for the time being and said she looks forward to watching the office and staff she helped mold continue to grow in efficiency and service. "It's just been a profound honor to do this job -- it's been my dream job," Rodewald said. "To work with these people and to help the customers, it's been the funnest 20 years of my life."