Six mayors. Four decades. And so many
Elaine Valencia has been the executive assistant to mayors
in Bremerton since 1983. She’s survived quite a variety of
personalities, keeping each one in line and on track and
establishing a reputation that the next mayor in line felt they
couldn’t live without.
On Friday, she celebrated her 40th year with the city. But she’d
be just fine without any pomp and circumstance, happy to leave the
limelight to her boss.
“I prefer to stay in the background and not draw a lot of
attention,” she said.
A lifelong Bremerton resident — her father Jerry Yeadon was
the elected clerk of Bremerton for a couple terms — she graduated
from West High School in 1969.
She got a job in the city’s parks and recreation department as
an office assistant in 1974, transferring to the planning
department after about a year. There, she stayed until 1983,
shortly after the city’s charter passed and a strong mayor
form of government replaced a city commission in
When she left the planning department, she had it written in her
contract that she’d “bumped” back there if she lost her position in
the mayor’s office, where at that time she served Morrie
But, “I never had to use it,” she said of the contract.
The job, she said, requires a diligence in staying on top of
daily affairs and correspondence. There are days when the office is
flooded and someone unprepared would be overwhelmed. If the ball is
dropped, she said, it can damage the entire office’s — and indeed
the city’s — reputation.
Case in point: when Gene Lobe, the second mayor she served,
came aboard in 1986 he had Valencia on three months’ probation. She
recalled being late for a few things in those early days. On the
day the three months was up, he called her into his office. He
decided to retain her but told her that she was never to be
late for anything again.
“You have to be the example for all other employees,” Lobe told
The message has resonated to Valencia to this day.
“I’ve never been late since,” she said.
Mayor Louis Mentor, taking the reins in 1990, never even asked
if Valencia would stay on. She just kept going. Mayor Lynn Horton
made a point of asking that she stay, Valencia said.
Mayor Cary Bozeman told Valencia “everyone told me that I have
to keep you,” and so she stayed through another tenure.
When current Mayor Patty Lent was elected, it was a familiar
face. Both had known each other through the Lions Club and Valencia
had seen Lent in the mayor’s office before when Lent was a county
Over those five mayors’ tenures she’s watched a downtown
bustling with life nearly die, only to be reborn again in recent