Juneau Municipal Clerk Laurie Sica in her office on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Sica is retiring this month. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau Municipal Clerk Laurie Sica in her office on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Sica is retiring this month. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

‘Churn that butter’: Municipal clerk retires after 22 years working for the city

Laurie Sica’s personality, mentoring will be missed by colleagues

Laurie Sica never knows exactly what her day may entail. And for her, that is part of why she will miss her job.

Sica, who is retiring after 18 years as Municipal Clerk and about 22 years in total working for the City and Borough of Juneau on June 29, said the hustle and bustle and being kept in the know always made her job interesting.

“I am going to miss what is going on in town,” Sica said in her office. “I will miss the activity. I will also miss all the great people at the CBJ.”

Sica said being a clerk in the city office always kept her on her toes.

“I don’t know if there is a normal day,” Sica, 57, said. “Every day is different. There is always something new to learn. Every day it is churn, churn, churn that butter.”

Sica found her way into city government after moving from Washington to Skagway in 1981. In Skagway, Sica worked in city government. She said after a job that involved answering tourist mail turned into a part-time clerk position, she discovered she really enjoyed working for a city.

“I found out I really liked the customer service part of working in a city and seeing all the people,” Sica said.

She and her husband, Mike, moved to Juneau in 1995 after he took a sports reporter position job at the Empire. Her first position in Juneau was as a co-compliance officer in the Community Development Department. That position entailed enforcing various codes around town. After four years, a clerk position opened up. She got the job and never looked back.

During her entire run as a clerk, she has worked alongside colleague and friend, Beth McEwen. McEwen, who is currently the Deputy Clerk, will be filling Sica’s role at the CBJ. Sica said their ability to work off each other made for a smooth work environment.

“We complement each other very well,” Sica said. “We just have a great connection. I am very proud of her and I know she is ready. We are good friends and have been through a lot together. I will definitely miss Beth.”

McEwen said she and Sica have been a great team in the office.

“It has been fantastic,” McEwen said. “We are the ‘dynamic duo.’ She is an incredible friend and mentor and it had been a great team. I am going to miss her.”

That kind of teamwork is especially helpful come election season, which Sica said is the busiest time for the office. Once the campaign season starts, it is all about keeping everything organized.

“Election season can get pretty crazy,” Sica said. “It is all about getting people in place.”

That can involve training 80-100 people to help run the election and then actually running the election. Once officials are elected, there is an adjustment period of working with new people. Sica is a constant in a world full of change. She said staying level-headed is how she dealt with changes.

“I think our job is about being calm,” Sica said. “We have to keep the train running on time. There is a definite rhythm to the process. (The elections) have always been fun. We are fortunate that we have always had smooth elections.”

Mayor Ken Koelsch, who was on the Assembly when Sica was hired in 2000, said Sica’s work at election time has always been stellar.

“In all her years, there has never been anyone who questioned the way she deals with an election or the results,” Koelsch said. “That is pretty phenomenal. She is just a rockstar when it comes to being a city clerk.”

City Manager Rorie Watt said Sica’s even-keeled personality and work ethic made a great fit inside City Hall.

“It is really nice to have somebody like Laurie who has a lot of institutional knowledge,” Watt said. “We are going to miss her professionally and personally.”

Being a city clerk, Sica explained is really reacting to all kinds of different situations. Clerks may handle notary duties, get asked questions about Assembly meetings and have to keep the agendas and records up to date. Sica said working with the people of Juneau has also been an enjoyable part of the job.

“There is a lot of public involvement,” Sica said. “People care about Juneau.”

Sica plans to do some traveling post-retirement. She will be going to Skagway to be with her husband, who is now a conductor for White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad. She will then travel to Florida to visit family. Sica also plans on finishing her college degree. She is three classes away from graduating and will take them online. She plans to graduate in 2019. After that, she is not exactly sure what is in store.

“I will go wherever the spirit leads me,” Sica said.

• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at gphilson@juneauempire.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.

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