Iva Nelson honored for 40 years of service


By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor

When most people think of Gadsden City Hall and Gadsden City Council, they typically think of one woman – City Clerk Iva Nelson.

Most people who work for the City of Gadsden all agree that City Hall would not function well without Nelson.

Nelson has been a staple at City Hall since she was hired as a typist for the clerk’s office in March of 1984. She served in numerous roles in the clerk’s office until her mentor and predecessor Martha Elrod  retired and told the powers that be that they should appoint Nelson, who was appointed to the role of City Clerk on October 8, 2002.


elson is not a woman who enjoys bragging about herself or patting herself on the back. Instead, she prefers to give credit to the city clerk office staff and Elrod.

“Martha Elrod was my second mama,” Nelson said. “I would always joke with her about her being like a second mother to me. She taught me so much of what I know.”

Though many people are not aware of exactly what all a city clerk does, they know that the city clerk’s office in Gadsden is where you go if you need help.

“People call, and we want to help them,” Nelson said. “If we don’t have the answer, we will find them or find someone who has the answer. We field a lot of phone calls. We work as support staff for the council, as well. We take their phone calls and help facilitate meetings.”

Beyond the mountain of clerical work the office processes, city clerks also hold the titles for all municipality owned vehicles, handle tags and registration for those vehicles, do background research for documents and records, keep official records (both digital and paper copies) of important information, receive all mail for city hall and distribute it through the internal mail system, receive claims and suits, coordinate auctions for obsolete equipment, receive sealed bids for jobs or equipment purchases, distributes accounts payable checks, maintain city code books, and the list goes on.

“A typical day is, well, there is no typical day,” Nelson said. “There’s usually a pile of paperwork here or there that needs to be handled. Then I have all of the emails to go through, and there is always something important, or multiple somethings that are important. Then of course there are Tuesdays, which are busy with city council meetings. Those days are exciting. You never know what a day will hold.”

Nelson, who grew up in Gadsden and who was the first graduate of Coosa Christian School in 1977, loves her job and has no plans on retiring.

“I have friends who have told me that when it is time to retire, you will just know,” Nelson said. “Well, it is not time yet. I have no plans. If and when I do retire, I certainly will not take another job. I wouldn’t want any other job. Maybe I will play golf more often and maybe take a few more trips to the beach.”

Nelson’s father worked in the Goodyear warehouse in Gadsden and her mother was a banker. She has one brother with special needs and her mother still cares for him in their home. Nelson says her family is special.

“I had a great childhood,” Nelson said. “We are a close-knit family. My father taught me golf and tennis. They encouraged me in my musical pursuits.”

Beyond being known as city clerk, Nelson is known locally for singing The Star-Spangled Banner at events in Gadsden and Etowah County. She credits Elrod for getting her involved in that, as well.

Another person she has fond memories of from City Hall is former Councilman Robert Echols. Echols served on the first administration of a mayor-council government for the City of Gadsden. He served from 1986 until retiring from service 32 years later. He passed in November of 2018.

“When you work at City Hall you develop relationships with people,” Nelson said. “We have had and continue to have good caliber people working here. The most enriching part is the lifelong friendships you make here. Robert Echols stands out in my mind. He was a wonderful person to work with and cherished by so many.”

Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford regards Nelson as one of those “good caliber” people.

“The real mayor is this woman named Iva Nelson,” said Ford at the April 2 meeting of the Gadsden City Council. “I want to say thank you to you [Nelson]. You have enhanced the lives of people in Gadsden for 40 years. It is a joy to have you. I hope you serve another 40 years. I really do. I know the council hopes so also.”

To show appreciation for the work she has done for the city, Ford and Council President Kent Back presented Nelson with a proclamation at the April 2 council meeting that declared March 23, 2024 as Iva Nelson Day in the city and held a reception at City Hall for her as well. At the reception she was presented with a shirt that had a goat on it because Nelson is referred to as the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) of City Hall.

“It’s an honor to celebrate the G.O.A.T,” Ford said. “Thank you, Iva Nelson, for all you do to keep city government running.”

Nelson was named the 2019 Municipal Clerk of the Year by the Alabama Association of Municipal Clerks and Administrators.

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