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April 12, 2021

Freels retiring as Gilroy’s city clerk

Led department since 2007

Shawna Freels is retiring as Gilroy’s city clerk after 14 years at the helm.

Freels announced her intentions to the city council in a letter on March 22. Her last day with Gilroy is April 16.

“I value the support and encouragement of each City Council I have worked for,” she wrote. “It has allowed me to be ambitious and visionary in serving the community and to grow professionally. It has been a privilege to have been a part of this organization.”

Freels was hired by the city in 2006 as an administrative assistant. She was later appointed to city clerk in 2007, leading the department that handles the city’s elections and public records, among other administrative duties.

Freels, a San Juan Bautista resident, served as that city’s elected clerk prior to joining Gilroy. She was again elected as San Juan Bautista city clerk in November 2020.

In the letter, Freels wrote that she was attracted to Gilroy for its “exemplary municipal leadership,” where she was tasked with modernizing operations.

“This last year has been especially difficult and transformative for the City,” she wrote. “It is with deep introspection for a need of the right fit that I recognize the time has come for me to transition to the next stage of life—retirement.”

Freels said she will continue training entry-level clerks through the City Clerk’s Association of California, as well as volunteering in her role as city clerk in San Juan Bautista.

Once Covid-19 settles, Freels said she and her husband, who retired a little more than a year ago from Cal Fire, plan to travel, as well as “enjoy the great outdoors” at their place in the Sierras.

Mayor Marie Blankley said she will miss Freels’ “cheerful smile and the many years of campaign filing assistance I’ve enjoyed not only for myself but for council and mayoral candidates for whom I served as treasurer.”

“She’s been exceptionally responsive to the public on matters within the purview of the office of the city clerk and will certainly be difficult shoes to fill,” Blankley said. “We wish her well in her retirement.”

In closed session Monday night, the Gilroy City Council was slated to discuss appointing a new city clerk.

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