Township clerk going strong 51 years later

Taylor Desormeau
Jackson Citizen Patriot

Sandstone — It was 1965 and Priscilla “Pixie” Sterrett was pregnant with her youngest son. Without being interviewed or elected, she was appointed Sandstone Township Clerk — 17 days before giving birth.

Now, 51 years later at 77 years old, Sterrett starts another four-year term after being re-elected Nov. 8.

“My dad had talked to the supervisor of the township, and he was looking for someone to be the township clerk, because they were not happy with the person who had the job,” Sterrett said. “And dad said, ‘Well, she can do it.’ He told me I had to come to the meeting because I was going to be appointed clerk. So that’s how it started.”

The clerk became an elected position not long after Sterrett started. Between all August primaries and November elections, Sterrett only has been opposed three times.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports in August she had 328 votes, compared to Alexandria Wellman’s 168.

“If the people want somebody else, they deserve it,” Sterrett said. “So far I’ve been lucky.”

Sterrett is soft-spoken, yet straight-to-the-point. She admits the lack of benefits or retirement plan factor into her career longevity, but notes it’s the people she works with that keep her going.

While her given name is Priscilla, Sterrett said, “The only one that ever called me ‘Priscilla’ was mother when she was mad.” The day she was born, her grandmother said she looked like a little pixie — and the name stuck.

The township even received phone calls from concerned voters filling out their absentee ballots, wondering why they couldn’t find “Pixie” on the ballot.

Some things are just as they were in 1965 — she still takes notes at township meetings, does correspondence and keeps financial records. There’s still a bit of a “bee issue,” she said, like there’s always been in the township meeting space.

Other circumstances have vastly changed. Her salary has improved from $900 a year to $28,000. She actually has an office at township hall and works four days a week, instead of working on her time from home.

She no longer balances multiple jobs — like she did when she worked at the family-owned Burr Oaks Golf Course in the summer, a school’s extended-day program during the year and a small Parma shop doing bookkeeping.

Sterrett hasn’t been the only familiar face in the township office. After 42 years as township treasurer, Theresa Taylor’s final day with Sandstone Township was Nov. 17, after not running for re-election.

Deputy Clerk Kimberly Britten called the two “pillars” in the community.

Britten’s path to the township office compares to Sterrett’s story. The two met about seven years ago when Britten was doing childcare for Sterrett’s grandchildren.

“She said, ‘Hey, do you want to be a clerk? I need one.’ ” Britten said. “And I said, ‘I don’t know, what do I do?’ She goes, ‘Kim, you’ll be fine.’”

While the pair have different personalities, Britten said their skills complement each other. Sterrett’s 51 years of experience don’t hurt, either.

“She has a great history,” Britten said. “And people love her because they’ve known her for so long.”