May 2012 home page

Mercedes Transcenz
Sherryl L. Parks | Kalamath Drive


Mercedes Martin.  Courtesy City of Del Mar

Mercedes Martin came to Del Mar to work for Jim Sandoval in the Planning Department in 1988. At that time her son was 2 years old and she was working full-time while going to school half-time. Early in 1994 then City Manager Lauraine Brekke-Esparza promoted her to City Clerk where she has served Del Mar for 18 years.

The Sandpiper asked Mercedes to tell us a little about her early years where she grew up.

I was raised in Kansas City Kansas -- which is not to be confused with Kansas City Missouri. My father was a U.S. Postal Clerk, and my mother would sing at the drop of a hat. I went to a community college right out of high school but had no idea what I wanted to study. The Vietnam War was happening, friends were being drafted or going to college to try to avoid the draft and KCK was a hot spot for race riots.

My education, unfortunately, took a back seat and I married at 18. I went to work for an insurance company. A few years later when my marriage ended, I met a musician and we traveled for several years while he pursued his musical career. Later we settled down in Springfield, Mo, and I went to college part-time at Southwest Missouri State University.

Sandpiper: How did you get to San Diego and ultimately Del Mar?
In 1984, my soul mate Don Christiansen and I started our lives together. In 1988 we moved to Carlsbad with our 2-year-old son and settled in with the understanding that I would return to school. I also needed a job and Del Mar was hiring. I went to work for Jim Sandoval in Planning - working full-time while going to school half-time. In 1994 I graduated from San Diego State University with a BS degree in Business Administration.

Sandpiper: What do you do as the City Clerk?
The City Clerk profession has been around for years. In the United States, it is a female dominated position. The Clerk duties are fairly exacting; there are a lot of regulations that cities must follow, such as the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, the regulations of the Fair Political Practices Commission, and the Elections Code. The Clerk helps the City meet those legal obligations. The Clerk is also the keeper of the Council records, including all of the minutes, resolutions, ordinances and contracts approved by the City Council. While there is no specific training required by the profession itself, it is encouraged. Cities in California are generally requiring some experience in the field and a college degree, with a Certified Municipal Clerk designation as a plus. I was awarded my CMC in 1998; continual education regarding changing laws is critical.

Sandpiper: How many City Managers have you worked for?
I’ve worked for five City Managers beginning with Kay Jimno in 1988.

Sandpiper: Is the transition difficult?
Change is always somewhat stressful and every manager has his or her own style and strengths. I am pretty easy going and know my job well, so I usually don’t get too stressed out. I think the City has been very fortunate to have such good managers. As people get to know the new manager, Scott Huth, I think they will agree that he meets the high standards that Del Mar demands.

Sandpiper: We see you out in the community often. What do you look forward to each year?
My favorite part of the job as City Clerk is working with the community. My favorite events are the City Council’s Annual Volunteer Reception, the summertime Concerts in the Park, and of course, going to the Fair and Races. Part of the reason I love these events is because it is an opportunity to visit with some of the residents and to enjoy this beautiful city. I think the high caliber of the residents and their involvement in the community, the beauty of the natural settings, and the small group of tight-knit employees all add to the reasons why people love working here.

Sandpiper: We have an election this year. How does that impact your workload?
Elections are difficult -- it’s not the politics though. It’s all of the laws regulating elections that are sometimes difficult because the Code is not always written very clearly. As the Elections Official, I must operate in absolutes, even though the Elections Code is sometimes “gray.” Besides the Code, there’s case law. As the Clerk, I really need to stay on top of these regulations.

Sandpiper: Working full time, going to school part time and raising a child is a lot to handle. How have things worked out for your family?
Years later, Don and I are still living in Carlsbad. Our now 26-year-old son is living nearby and working on his PhD in computer science at UCSD. For all of the guilt that I had being a full-time working mother and part-time student, I truly believe that my determination to finish school and my belief in the value of education were recognized by my son as being important lessons.

The City of Del Mar is a wonderful place to work. I enjoy working here and getting to know, and interact with, many of Del Mar’s residents.

Sandpiper: Wow, you have already worked for Del Mar for almost twenty-five years. Thanks for your continued attention to details and keeping us on track.


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