“A hard legacy to follow”: Longtime Snowmass town clerk Rhonda Coxon to retire
Coxon’s name “almost synonymous” with the role she’s held for nearly two decades
If anyone knows anything about the town of Snowmass Village and how it works, it’s Rhonda Coxon.
“People know that if you want to know something or someone or you’ve got an issue with another town service, you pick up the phone and you call Rhonda and she’s going to steer you in the right direction,” said former Mayor Markey Butler, who has known Coxon for nearly 20 years and worked with her for the 12 years Butler served as a councilwoman and then three-term mayor of Snowmass Village.
As the town clerk for the better part of two decades (Coxon took on the role in 2004) and a municipal employee for nearly 30 years (she started working for the town in 1993), “she has her signature on probably more official town records that will live on in eternity than probably anybody at the town of Snowmass Village,” said Assistant Town Manager Travis Elliott.
But by the start of the new year Coxon’s signing hand will get a hard-earned break: She plans to retire at the end of this month at the age of 65 from the role of town clerk that town IT specialist Doug Goldfluss said has become “almost synonymous” with her name.
“It’s going to be a huge void to fill, and I’m going to give some sympathy to the person who fills the position because it will be a hard legacy to follow,” said Goldfluss, who has known Coxon for all of the 13 years he’s worked with the town.
She has recorded the minutes for hundreds of town council meetings; prepped thousands upon thousands of pages of meeting agendas and packets; processed liquor license applications for just about every business and event in town; tallied votes for three decades worth of elections and maintained town records for just about everything that has passed through the town in recent history.
“That job is not an easy job,”said former Mayor Markey Butler. “It’s one that no one appreciates, unless they’ve walked in the shoes of a town clerk.”
In Snowmass, “those are going to be some big shoes to fill,” said current Mayor Bill Madsen, who has known Coxon since he moved to the town 25 years ago. Goldfluss agrees on that front.
“Once a week, I predict there’ll be something that somebody will not know what to do, and they’ll be like, ‘Just ask Rhonda — oh, no,’” he said. “(There will be) situations where our resource, our person who knows everything is now gone, and I’m sure we’ll be calling her a lot.”
Coxon, for her part, will be ready, and perhaps even eager, to pick up that phone. She already has hopes that she’ll be able to help out when the Colorado Municipal Clerks Association (of which she is a longtime member and former president) comes to town for a conference in 2023.
If Coxon is being honest — and she’s always being honest, just ask anyone who has worked with her in Town Hall — the decision to retire came in part from the changing times.
“I’m not going to lie — technology, I can’t keep up, … (and) everything’s kind of changing in the village too, and it just felt like it was time,” Coxon said.
Though she’s looking forward to traveling some and spending time with family in Pennsylvania, she acknowledged it wasn’t an easy departure from the place she’s spent nearly thirty years.
“I’m definitely going to miss it,” Coxon said. “It’s going to be really rough in January when I go … I bet you I will be watching council meetings, just because I want to know what’s going on.”
Coxon may not be longing for those Monday nights spent noting the happenings of Town Council meetings. (“The hours are great but the minutes are killing me,” she joked.) It’s more so the people she’s spent so much time around, she said.
“I am going to miss this place, I’m going to miss people, the connection with the community — I’m going to miss it a lot,” Coxon said. “Especially the camaraderie with all my other Colorado clerks, that was a very special bond with them.”
She plans to stay busy in retirement, too, and to stick around Snowmass where she lives in one of the Daly Townhomes.
“First, I was nervous — very nervous. The whole retirement process was very nerve-wracking,” Coxon said. “Now I’m excited to enjoy life. I’ve already got a couple trips planned in January, and I know that I will not be out of work very long because I’ll go crazy so I’m planning on doing a part-time job a couple days a week that I really enjoy.”
That might look like a concierge gig where she can continue to share her knowledge about the town and everything there is to do in it, or like serving as an election judge in upcoming vote-counts.
Then again, running for public office might be a contender too.
“I always told Mayor Butler … she was the first female mayor. Well, you know what? Someday I’m going to run for mayor and I’ll be the second one,” Coxon said. (Butler said it’s a “standing joke” between the two of them; time will tell whether Coxon decides to throw her name in the hat for an election in the future.)
As for her own successor, Coxon and town staff don’t know just yet who will fill the role; the hiring process has been underway since mid-October and interviews with candidates are slated to happen in mid-December, according to Elliott.
The goal is to have someone fill the role in January 2022, according to Elliott, and Coxon will help with the transition for her replacement.
Her advice for the person that fills her position: “Don’t reinvent the wheel. It’s working the way it is,” Coxon said.
“Everybody has their own way of doing things, but don’t make everything so impersonal that you never talk to somebody,” she said. “Don’t make all the processes so that they have to do everything online and you never speak to a person. … I think it’s important that the clerk is someone that they know, that they can come to.”
Whoever it is that gets the job, “they will likely be set up for success because of work that she’s done and kept the ship afloat for so long,” Elliott said.
“The town and the community owes her a debt of gratitude for her career in public service,” he added.
There’s something to be said for the way Coxon has served the town not only by way of her job description but by way of her nature, too. Friends and colleagues said over and over that she is hard-working, yes — Town Manager Clint Kinney said she is a “stalwart employee” — but also someone knows how to have fun and ensure that everyone else is enjoying themselves too. (Kinney’s parting words for Coxon: “Party on, Wayne.”)
“Rhonda quite quickly kind of emerged as the ultimate caretaker and mama bear, almost, of Town Hall,” Elliott said. “I was new, new to the town, new to Town Hall and much younger back then and she was super welcoming and inviting and just really warm and quickly made me feel part of the family here at the town, which is extremely relieving and comforting when you’re when you’re the new person, so (I’m) eternally grateful for that.”
She has attended Jazz Aspen-Snowmass festivals since the earliest days (she had a particularly memorable experience on Willie Nelson’s bus the first year the festival was held up by Coney Glade in 1995) and since moving to the village in 1982 has become a mainstay at just about every seminal Snowmass community event you can think of.
“I think she just really identifies as a Snowmass person and that’s great,” Madsen said. “It’s the people who have been here the longest that are really (the ones) you kind of associate with a town, and Rhonda is one of them.”