Talkin’ business with the chamber director

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Darla Murker might be a busy lady, but she always finds time for the things she loves.

She keeps busy as executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce and as a Silverdale Rotarian, but she manages to find time to tend to her miniature horses and create beautiful artwork. With a smile on her face, Murker works with hundreds of local businesses and talks to tourists everyday, all while battling endometrial cancer. The Silverdale Chamber of Commerce executive director recently invited us into her office to talk about business, her family and her love of horses.

Question: How did you get involved with the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce?

Answer: I started with the chamber in October 2001 and I was a communications coordinator. I responded to an ad for a communications coordinator job — basically my dream job — doing PR, advertising stuff, it was very cool. I became acting director in May 2006 and director in August 2006.

Q: What did you do before you got involved with the chamber?

A: I used to work for the biggest social services agency in the state.

Q: Family?

A: My husband, Ross, his son, he’s 23 and lives in California, and my two boys, who are 23 and 19.

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: If it involves horses, I’m there. I own two miniature horses right now. I used to show locally and I used to groom for show barns in San Diego. I’m one of those little girls that never grew out of it. Otherwise, I like to garden, I like to fish, but I’m not very good at that. I also like art.

Q: What are your duties as director of the chamber?

A: It depends on the day of the week and the phase of the moon. Most of it is customer service. It’s never the same day twice and that’s one of the great joys of the job. What we do is so much more than work with our business members or community.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Silverdale?

A: I think probably my favorite thing about Silverdale is the community spirit. There’s some really great people that really believe in the community here. There’s just great people who are in positions to make changes and are just excited about the community.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: “Gone with the Wind,” without hesitation. I firmly believe that there are two types of women in the world — there are Scarletts and there are Melanies.

Q: How many businesses belong to the Silverdale Chamber?

A: There’s probably between 375 and 400. There are probably close to 2,000 businesses in the Central Kitsap Fire District and boy I’d love to have them involved in the chamber, but a lot of them are large corporations and we’re looking for ways to get them involved.

Q: What types of businesses belong to the chamber?

A: There’s an Arabian horse farm in Seabeck, home-based businesses, a Mary Kay cosmetics lady, all the way up to Costco, so it totally runs the gamut. There’s no guidelines to join the chamber, there’s no hazing ritual or Greek week. It’s pretty much if a business has an inkling to get involved in the community and give back, they can join.

Q: Are you for or against Silverdale incorporation?

A: Personally, I am for. The (Silverdale Chamber) board of directors are working on their position. They did a polling of the members and they have a strong feel for that.

Q: How would Silverdale incorporation impact the chamber?

A: First and foremost, every Chamber in a city in Kitsap County has access to lodging tax dollars and these range from $15,000-$50,000 a year. If we were incorporated, we would be able to take the money from the 300 hotel rooms across the street (from the Silverdale Chamber) and keep it here in Central Kitsap. It would give the individuals more voice and better boundaries and they’d be better able to decide what happens in their communities. Silverdale is like the cash cow of the county and we never stop and think how it (money) spreads around the county and doesn’t stay here.

Q: Why is being a chamber member beneficial to businesses?

A: Businesses recognize that there is power in numbers and that if they can be a part of a group that is successful that can only benefit their business and the community.

Q:What is your favorite local event to attend?

A: The Thunderbird Benefit Pro Rodeo. I like the fact that it really has that family appeal and a good cause and it brings big name cowboys with local cowboys.

Q: I know you belong to Silverdale Rotary, so why do you think it’s important to get involved in community organizations?

A: I’m a strong believer in servant leadership — if we have the time and resources, we should give back. We’ve all got talents and we should be able to give back in some way. I think even getting involved with one organization betters a community.

Q: What is one thing you want to try in your lifetime?

A: I would like to ride a high level dressage or probably jump a horse. That goes back to the little girl thing.

Q: If you could change one thing about Silverdale, what would it be and why?

A: Probably if I could go back and change one thing about Silverdale, I’d create the roadways in such a way they could withstand the growth.

Q: What one person made the biggest impression on your life?

A: Strong female role models — I look to (Queen) Elizabeth the first, Cleopatra. I love history and studying but boy, right here and now, probably my husband.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: This is my third recurrence of endometrial cancer since 2003 and I want people to know the world doesn’t end when you deal with this kind of crap. You just look for really kicky headgear (laughs). I just do what I got to do. Humor is important. You have to take whatever you’re given, make the best of it and live in the now.

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