FAIRBANKS — For more than 30 years, the weekly Borough Assembly meetings have gone off without a hitch. On Thursday night, the body — both past and present members — gave a big thanks to the person who made that happen.
In a special, tearful ceremony, the Borough Assembly presented longtime Fairbanks North Star Borough Clerk Mona Lisa Drexler with a plaque commemorating her long career of overseeing meetings, the assembly and elections.
Drexler, who joined the borough in 1983, plans to leave the position on July 5 so she and her husband can spend more time with family in Florida.
A resolution by the assembly was read aloud by Presiding Officer Diane Hutchison.
“My husband served previously, and the first thing he told me was when you get on the assembly is ‘Mona will make your job easy,’” she said. “I’m not going to say she’s made it easy, but I can’t imagine how much trouble it would have been without her.”
The framed resolution wasn’t the only honor the assembly had in store for Drexler.
“As a very small token of our thanks that from this day forward the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly Chambers will now be known as the Mona Lisa Drexler Assembly Chambers,” she said to raucous applause.
A special plaque and framed resolutions will be placed in the chambers to remember the service of the woman who many called the “Mother of the Assembly.”
Former assemblywoman Bonnie Williams also presented a resolution on behalf of all former assembly members. The resolution thanked Drexler for ensuring that every election was safe and fair.
“Be it resolved that Mona Lisa Drexler has been the greatest borough clerk of this borough, of the state of Alaska, of the United States of America and very likely of the entire free world,” she said. “And be it resolved that if the unfree world had a clerk like Mona Lisa, they would become a bit freer.”
Special commemorations also were read aloud by Assemblyman Guy Sattley and former Assemblyman Matt Want as well as Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins and former Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker.
When it came time for her to say a few words, Drexler had nothing but thanks to say to the many people in the audience.
“I love the people in this state. I love the people in this community. I love the people in this borough who try to make a difference,” she said. “For me, having the staff I’ve had over the years, I’ve been blessed.”
She thanked everyone in the room by name for their service to the community and to the people who elected them.
“All of these people who get elected, they do a great job of doing what they’re supposed to do,” she said. “I’ve been very pleased and very blessed.”