blast from the past

Last Friday, I was able to visit with some friends at my old place of employment .... Portland's City Hall. You see, before I became a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, I was a glorified bureaucrat. Or a not so glorified bureaucrat as the case may be. For 11 years I worked for the City Auditor's Office, eight of those years as City Elections Officer. I worked with a great group of people who I am still honored to call my friends, and I was always proud of the work we accomplished for the public with efficiency, integrity and when possible, a smile. I'm happy I've moved on, but I'm also I've stayed connected with folks.

The funny (or not so funny) thing is, the day before I drove down to Portland for the weekend, the internets told me that my name was in the Oregonian. You see, my job at the City was medium profile, so I had set up a google alert that sends me an e-mail everytime my name is in the paper. Usually it's a bogus combination of "Susan" and "Francois" (the french first name, as opposed to my last name which rhymes with turquoise) that has nothing to do with me. This time, it did. It was an editorial by a former City candidate who I guess is now a columnist. It had to do with the public campaign finance system for City elections that my office implemented in my last year or two at the City. He was opposed to public financing, but apparently he's changing his mind. But first, he had this to say...
To be sure, voter-owned elections' track record hasn't been good. The first time around, a signature gatherer's fraud resulted in the funding of one candidate to be disallowed and another's disqualified before funding. When the fraud was discovered by The Oregonian's Anna Griffin, Blackmer went underground and the city's elections officer, Susan Francois, quit her job and became a nun. And $130,000 of city funds will likely never be recovered.

Apparently, I've entered the mythology of City Hall.

For the record (again), the mini campaign finance scandal of 2006 had nothing to do with my vocation story. Except perhaps for making the moment of my last day a little more joyful! I met the community in 2004, became a candidate in 2005 (the nun kind, not the elections kind), and gave my notice so they could start the hiring process for my replacement in March of 2006, months before the election!

Anyway ... as it happens, there was a going away party for my old boss, the elected City Auditor, that I was able to attend while I was in town this weekend. He's apparently leaving to become the State Auditor. They had pizza and beer in City Hall Friday night, and I was able to visit with some more old friends. One friend introduced me to a new coworker by saying, "This is Susan. She used to be City Elections Officer. Until ..." and then she looked at me, wanting me to finish the story. "I left three years ago to become a nun," I said. The woman looked at me, wide eyed, and then figured it was a joke. She laughed. "No really," I said. "I'm a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace. I live in Seattle now and work for a peace and justice advocacy nonprofit." "Oh," she said. "That's cool," as she took a sip of her drink.

I guess it is kind of an unusual story .... but I'm sticking to it!

1 comment:

Garpu said...

Hee. That's great. :)