Brenda Madison was hired as Centennial's deputy city clerk in December 2003. At the time, the city was just two years old.
“A friend who was doing contract work for the city was putting feelers out for an assistant clerk position and invited me to come in and interview,” Madison said.
Seven years later, after Centennial became a “home rule” city and the clerk and recorder job changed to an appointed rather than elected position, then-city manager Jacque Wedding-Scott promoted Madison to the department's top job.
Today, she has the distinction of being Centennial's longest-tenured employee.
“Brenda is a consummate professional,” says Centennial City Manager John Danielson. “The knowledge and skills she demonstrates daily do not go unnoticed. We're lucky to have her.”
“When I started working here, there was no city clerk's office,” Madison said. “I pretty much put it together, from establishing procedures and creating forms to all of the other things we do today. I have been very fortunate to have a very stellar staff,” Madison added, crediting in particular her deputy clerk, Barb Setterlind, who has been with her since 2007.
“Barb and I work very closely together,” she said, including sitting side by side at every city council meeting.
During council meetings, Madison focuses “mostly on procedural things. The details of what's being discussed by the council and city staff are really not part of my bailiwick,” she said. “I concentrate on making sure the meeting is running smoothly and that we are accurately recording everything.”
Madison's job description is fairly wide-ranging. “I am the designated election official, clerk to city council, in charge of records management, liquor licensing, accepting passport applications, keeping track of everything that goes in to the municipal code. I also do pawnbroker licensing, recruit boards and commissions, publish legal notices,” she added. “My days can get pretty busy.”
“You wouldn't know it from looking at my office but I am a very organized person,” she added. “You have to be organized to be a city clerk. Accuracy in all aspects of the job is the most important thing to me — making sure we don't make mistakes, and if we do, taking care of them right away.”
Born in Phoenix, Madison moved to Colorado when she was in the sixth grade. She calls her husband Mo “the love of my life” and has two daughters, Jenny and Brandee.
Her resume reads like a Horatio Alger story: Hired as a receptionist by the City of Englewood when she was 22, she worked her way into positions of increasing responsibility in the city's personnel, central cashiering and police departments.
In 1991, Madison said, “I found my true calling and went to work in the city clerk's office.”
Pat Crow, then Englewood's city clerk, recognized Madison's abilities and eventually promoted her to the position of deputy city clerk.
Then, in 2001, she accepted a position as Sheridan's city clerk, and a year and a half later came to work in Centennial.
Madison, who has taken courses at the University of Colorado and Arapahoe Community College but has no formal degree, has been honored twice by the Colorado Municipal Clerks Association (CMCA) with Distinguished Service awards. In 2010, she served as CMCA state president.
Today, she earns $101,000 a year.
Contrary to what some might think, election season is not a particularly busy time in the city clerk's office. “We're a mail ballot drop-off site for the Arapahoe County Coordinated Election, so the Arapahoe County clerk is managing this election,” Madison said. “Election time is really not a hard time for us. I consider it more of a highlight of my job. It's interesting. We get to meet the candidates, have an election-night gathering.”
In odd-year elections, Madison said voter turnout across the city used to peak at 15 to 20 percent. “This year, we've had a pretty heavy turnout in terms of people dropping off ballots (at the Civic Center),” she said. With four council seats and the mayor's job up for grabs — as well as the “2G” ballot initiative — she predicted voter turnout could eclipse 40 percent.
In a little more than two years, another Centennial city employee will assume the mantle of longest-tenured employee. That's because Madison plans to retire on December 1, 2015.
“I've already looked at the calendar,” she said. “It's a Tuesday. I'll be 66. It'll be right after the election. And that's when I am going to go.”