Retiring City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt smiles as he is honored during an Assembly meeting Monday night. Watt will be officially departing at the end of September after announcing his plan to retire in April. Public Works and Engineering Director Katie Koester was selected to take over the role. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Retiring City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt smiles as he is honored during an Assembly meeting Monday night. Watt will be officially departing at the end of September after announcing his plan to retire in April. Public Works and Engineering Director Katie Koester was selected to take over the role. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Assembly bids farewell to retiring City Manager Rorie Watt

He was honored Monday during an Assembly meeting ahead of his departure at the end of September.

City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt will soon trade his hat as city manager for a helmet as he prepares to depart from his municipal role and head to the mountains to enjoy his retirement rock climbing.

“It hasn’t always been easy, it hasn’t always been fun, but I can tell you it’s always been rewarding,” he said about the position. “I’m super proud of our staff and super confident in the city to keep rolling forward.”

Watt was honored during the Assembly’s Monday night meeting, his last meeting as city manager. He will be officially departing at the end of September after announcing his plan to retire in April. Public Works and Engineering Director Katie Koester was selected to take over the role.

[City selects familiar face to serve as next manager]

Retiring City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt (right) smiles as Mayor Beth Weldon reads a proclamation Monday night honoring him for his time as manager. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Retiring City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt (right) smiles as Mayor Beth Weldon reads a proclamation Monday night honoring him for his time as manager. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Watt has worked for more than 30 years at the city serving eight different roles. His role as city manager began in 2016 and during his tenure, he was named 2022 Municipal Official of the Year by the Alaska Municipal League. Before his time as manager, he took on seven different positions over his three decades working with the city, rising to director of engineering and public works before taking over the top administrative job.

Come his retirement, Watt said he plans to travel the country in a van and pursue his passion for rock climbing. At the meeting, he was gifted a variety of climbing gear by the Assembly and city administration.

Deputy City Manager Robert Barr thanked Watt for his commitment to his position, one that he said is not easy but extremely important to the community.

City and Borough of Juneau Deputy City Manager Robert Barr (left) and retiring City Manager Rorie Watt (right) hug Monday night during an Assembly meeting where Watt was honored for his time as manager. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

City and Borough of Juneau Deputy City Manager Robert Barr (left) and retiring City Manager Rorie Watt (right) hug Monday night during an Assembly meeting where Watt was honored for his time as manager. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

“I am going to miss working with Rorie, I am sad about that. But, just as sad about that, I am equally excited to be working under our new city manager who brings an amazing capacity in a different and similar way,” he said. “I truly believe the city will be in good hands.”

Mila Cosgrove, former deputy city manager, applauded Watt’s patience and persistence as manager, saying his authenticity, engagement and guidance have been deeply valuable to the city and residents of Juneau.

“Always it has been clear to me that you have a deep and abiding love for the community and making this place better,” she said.

Multiple Assembly members shared kind words as well, and Mayor Beth Weldon read a poem she wrote about Watt and his value to the city.

Watt thanked the Assembly and city administration along with his family members, who were present both in the chamber’s audience and online.

“At CBJ you can’t do it alone, nothing is individual and we do everything together, and that’s really how we roll…we’re really a team,” he said.

Watt said he is proud of the work the city and Assembly has been able to accomplish in recent years, and said he looks forward to what will be done in the future.

“We come down here in a hot room, and sweat the details and we listen to the public, we listen to the praise and criticism and we work out things together to make this a great community,” he said. “Never in a thousand years did I imagine when I came off the Matanuska on Martin Luther King Day in 1992 with one phone number, never did I think I would be here after 30-plus years and a full municipal career being lucky enough to be city manager.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651) 528-1807.

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