Journalists depend on many sources to do their work; a few are so essential that it would be hard to function without them.
Maggie Burleson is one of those. As Asheville’s city clerk for the past 11 years, she has helped guide a long line of Mountain Xpress reporters through the intricacies of City Hall. A walking directory and search engine, she has cheerfully and patiently supplied phone numbers, contacts, documents and general info — all without compromising her obligations to the city that employed her. Her respect for journalists is well known, and she’s always been mindful of reporters’ pressing deadlines.
Burleson willingly went the extra mile to help track down obscure comments in archived City Council minutes. And if she didn’t know the answer to a question, she pointed reporters toward someone who might.
All this while keeping detailed minutes of Council meetings, public comment and vote counts. And having served as clerk under six different City Councils, she knows her way around a meeting more than just about anyone — Council members included.
Former Xpress staffer Brian Sarzynski put it this way: “How crucial was she to our job? Let’s put it this way: I memorized her City Hall phone number way before I learned the mayor’s. And there’s no doubt in my mind that I called the former more than the latter.”
Working at City Hall is inherently political. And when confronting angry residents and inquiring reporters, it’s understandable that city staffers may be tempted to resort to spin and butt-covering at times.
Not Maggie. She has always been forthright, timely, courteous and professional. Thanks to Maggie Burleson for her years of indispensable assistance.