By Claire Harlin
When Sherryl Parks retired in 2006, she didn’t stop.
She traveled to Gulf Port, Miss., in 2007 to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and she traveled to Africa in 2009 to feed children living near the resourced-drained diamond mines of Namibia. Having recently wrapped up a four-year elected term on Del Mar’s St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Vestry, which advises the priest on community relations, she’s ready for her next commitment – Del Mar City Council.
“My mom always told me to do one thing at a time, and do it endlessly,” said Parks, who has long been familiar with Del Mar and its residents through serving a term on the Design Review Board in 2000 and watching her former husband, Elliot Parks, serve as Del Mar Mayor during the 1990s. “I typically do one term and don’t go on. I don’t see myself as a political person. I’m just a resident signing up for a job, a four-year job, and my focus is to do this term the best that I can.”
While Parks didn’t have to do much campaigning for the unopposed seat, to which she was installed in December, she’s not a stranger to the process. She has worked on the campaigns of several former council members, such as Crystal Crawford and Jan McMillan, and some of the many community members who have witnessed Park’s dedicated grassroots efforts and involvement over the years have long encouraged her to run for a seat herself. She also accompanied her former husband as he traveled statewide representing Del Mar in the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and she took an invested interest in the Del Mar Library at that time, even serving as the co-chair of the building’s opening. She also served as president of the Del Mar Foundation Board, where she held a seat for six years.
But it’s not the issues of the day that she remembers from her daily involvement, and especially her former husband’s mayorship, more than a decade ago.
“I don’t remember every detail of how he voted,” she said. “What stuck with me was the active citizen involvement that was found at City Hall. And to this day, I’m not cynical about it, I’m still excited about it.”
At 67, Park’s involvement in the community hasn’t waned. For years she has volunteered at least once a week as a cashier at the St. Peter’s Thrift Shop and she has also opened up her home to fellow community members to hold educational events and classes under the city’s Community Emergency response team (CERT) and the NEST program (Neighborhood Emergency Support Team). She now works with a group sewing pillowcases for kids with Conkerr Cancer, an activity she plans to continue throughout her council term, and she was also asked about four years ago to serve on the editorial board for the Sandpiper, for which she has enjoyed writing stories about community members and city employees who have “given their heart and soul to the city,” she said.