By DON STINE
After 34 years on the job, Asbury Park City Clerk Stephen M. Kay is calling it quits at the end of this month.
“I guess it’s about time,” Kay said earlier this week.
He also said that a recent knee replacement operation and the slow pace of his physical recovery is also a factor in his decision to retire.
Kay, who is 63, has been the city clerk since 1980 and he has seen more than his fair share of ups and downs in the city, including surviving through a number of political scandals on the council along with several recalls and a change of government.
He said he is happy to see, as he is leaving, the nice pace of redevelopment on the oceanfront, downtown, and along Springwood Avenue.
“I am officially retiring on Jan. 30 but I will be staying around for a couple of months to help clear anything up,” he said.
Kay started working in Asbury Park in 1974 when he was hired as an assistant to the city manager to oversee a SETA Head Start program in the city. He became Deputy City Clerk in 1979 and then took over in 1980 when then-City Clerk Mary Martin Vaccaro retired after serving for 44 years.
“I eventually took her place but I am not breaking her record for years in the job,” he said.
Kay said he does not really want to discuss much about his retirement until it actually goes into effect.
“No more comment until the time limit is up” he said, quoting a well-known line from “The Adventures of Superman” series.
Kay, who lives in Neptune with his wife, Diane, said he now wants to take some recreational time for he and his wife and work on rehabilitating his knee.
Longtime former Deputy Clerk Kiki Tomek, who worked with Kay for 19 years, said she was one of the city employees who hired him for the SETA job back in 1974.
“Then I left to work elsewhere, came back, and Steve was then my boss,” she said.
Tomek said Kay will certainly be missed, especially for his in-depth knowledge about Asbury Park.
“He’s the hub. Anything you need to know about Asbury Park, he’s the person to go to. He has been here so long and he is with it- he knows everything, it’s amazing, Plus, he was the best boss ever and I wish good luck to him,” she said.
Mayor John Moor, who has known Kay since they were both about 12 years old, also called him “the hub of the city.”
“If someone needed information you went to him. He and his family go back generations in Asbury Park and they always gave back to the city,” he said.
Moor also made sure to mention, his health issues notwithstanding today, Kay was the Most Valuable Player in eighth-grade sports at Bradley Elementary School when they both went to school there.