Salvador, 56, never thought she would retire so early, having grown up in the Philippine barrio of Arubub, where her family sustained themselves by raising livestock and crops. She may have gotten an inkling that public service was her calling when her father became the "provincial warden" of the local prison, which made life much easier for the family.
"Maybe that's how it started," Salvador laughs, saying she hadn't thought of it before.
Salvador earned a degree in public administration and worked for a United Nations-sponsored housing program in Manila. She came to the United States in 1978 at the age of 24 and has worked in local government ever since, with stints at Santa Cruz County and the City of Capitola doing everything from document processing to working as a court clerk.
Salvador was named city clerk in Mountain View by the City Council in 1999 after 10 years as deputy city clerk. The highlight, she says, is working on city elections. When someone decides to run for City Council, the city clerk is the first person to get to know.
On Tuesday, every member of the City Council spoke with praise for Salvador and thanked her for her service. Margaret Abe-Koga said she was "devastated" that Salvador was leaving, while Jac Siegel said Salvador's service to the city has been "phenomenal."
If information is the lifeblood of city government, then the city clerk's office is the heart of City Hall. Information goes in and out and it's a busy, sometimes tedious job that can take over 50 hours a week for Salvador. There are three other employees in the clerk's office to help out, though one position, the receptionist, is on tier three of a list of potential city budget cuts. It is currently held by a temporary employee, who also serves as the receptionist for the city attorney, city manager and finance department.
In her tenure, Salvador has worked under 17 council members, and has spent over 1,000 hours on the council dais where her duties include preparing and sending out agendas, timing public speakers, and taking minutes. She has prepared over 500 sets of meeting minutes, 1,204 resolutions and 148 ordinances.
She handles regular public records requests, which puts her in contact with city gadflies who are sometimes unhappy with a piece of information she's given them. She says she doesn't take it personally, and she treats them the same as everyone else.
"Every city has their gadflies. Believe me, I talk to my counterparts," she laughs.
"When I get stressed, I think of where I've come from," Salvador said. Despite the stress, she says, "I will always miss it."
After retirement, Salvador says she fully expects to live past 100, like her grandmother and great-grandmother, who died at 113. In the next half of her life she plans to learn the piano, travel the world and spend more time with her immediate family who moved to the U.S. after she did. Though she has lived in a Mountain View condo during her work week for years, she is planning a major landscaping project at her home in Watsonville.
Next week, deputy clerk Wanda Wong will take over as interim city clerk until the City Council appoints a permanent replacement for Salvador.