PAOLA — Stephanie Marler never envisioned herself in a leadership position when she first was hired by the city of Paola in 2008 to be an administrative assistant for the public works department.
But thanks to her strong work ethic, willingness to learn and knowledge of the community, she quickly rose through the ranks.
On her five-year anniversary with the city, she was promoted to utility billing clerk and moved her office to Paola City Hall.
There, she began to learn the inner workings of the city from Paola City Clerk Dan Droste and Paola City Manager Jay Wieland.
When Droste announced in 2017 that he planned to retire in the summer of 2019, city officials came up with a plan to groom Marler to eventually take his place.
In the fall of 2017, Marler was promoted to assistant city clerk, giving her more than a year to learn the ins and outs of the position from Droste. It was a far cry from how Droste started, as he took over following the sudden passing of City Clerk Jill Holmes in 2004.
“I was so lucky,” Marler said of the extended training period. “Dan is amazing as a teacher. He’s very patient.”
During the past few months, Marler has taken a lead role in things such as budget planning and drafting the food truck ordinance.
Now, though, her training period is over. Droste’s last day was Wednesday, July 31, and one of his last duties was to swear Marler in as the new Paola City Clerk. A retirement celebration for Droste took place Friday, Aug. 2.
Droste told City Council members during his last council meeting in July that he knows Marler will do a great job.
“I have tremendous confidence in her abilities,” Droste said.
Marler said she’s ready to take on her new role. She especially feels prepared thanks to her extended time as assistant city clerk and her previous use of computer programs as utility billing clerk.
Marler’s name and face are familiar to many local residents because she grew up in Paola and graduated from Paola High School. Her husband, Brett, also works for the city as the sewer plant operator.
The couple have two children, 5-year-old Kylie, and 9-year-old Logan.
Marler currently is in the third year of a four-year city clerk certification program at Wichita State University. The program requires her to spend about a week each year at the school.