Since retiring as Eden Prairie city clerk last month, Kathryn “Kitty” Porta’s life moves at the pace of a stroll rather than a dash.
That became clear to her during a recent walk around Round Lake with her dog Max, a 5-year-old yellow Labrador.
“I realized I’m not rushing (to finish),” she said. “I can slow down a little bit.”
Porta, the city clerk from 1999 until her Aug. 20 retirement, is delighting in her new free time. In all, Porta worked 33 years for the city, 26 of those years full-time.
The Eden Prairie city clerk’s responsibilities include administering elections and maintaining official records and the city code. Nicole Tingly, who served as an intern at the city in 2014, succeeded Porta.
“I enjoy not having to be up early in the morning and at the office by 8 a.m.,” she said.
How it all began
During her retirement reception, Porta reminisced on how she ended up on her path to becoming city clerk.
An Eden Prairie resident since 1981, Porta remembered being encouraged to help with elections by friend Bille Brown, who served as an election judge. Porta called Sue Lane, who was the election manager at the time.
“That started everything,” she said.
Porta worked as an election judge, then head judge in Precinct 2. She also helped with election preparations.
“Sue turned over so many responsibilities to me, and I learned elections from the ground up,” Porta said.
Was Porta interested in elections before starting work for the city?
“I think that it was a good fit with who I am and with the skills and the giftings that I have,” she said.
‘A big part’ of her life
Though the hours were long, and there wasn’t much time for a personal life, Porta will miss being part of the election process.
“It is very demanding,” she said. “Yet the challenges and the service to the community, the way that you love the work, outweighs the negatives or the demands of the work.”
Elections, she stressed, are a “big part of everything I’ve done for so much of my life.” She’s not sure if she’ll stay away from the fray forever.
If a city needs election help, she said retired clerks are usually the first to get a call. “Hennepin County knows all the retired clerks,” she added.
Reflecting on her career, Porta said the people she worked with made coming to work delightful.
“Sometimes we’re so busy living life that we don’t stop and look back,” she said. “When you look back, you realize all the people who have been part of your life. All the people who have been on your election team, gone shoulder-to-shoulder with you staying up all night and working evenings and weekends and whatever it would take to get the job done.”
Porta said those people were indispensable.
“The election judges, the election team, the people who have worked with me, I love them all,” she said.
Since retiring, Porta has purposedly hit the pause button.
The plan is for her and her husband Charles to stay in Eden Prairie for now.
Three of Porta’s four children live in the area with their families. Charles, a minister, has not retired and probably won’t, she said.
“I gave myself permission to take three months and unwind and not feel like I had to know what my next step was going to be right away,” she said.
Porta did sign up for a Bible study fellowship on Wednesday mornings. For the last few years, she’s been attending Grace Church, where her daughter and son-in-law are on staff.
“That’s not something I was able to do during the daytime (while working full-time),” she said.
She also might look at taking some classes.
“I love learning and learning new things,” she said.