The last thing most people want to talk about at the end of a work day is their job, but not Beth McEwen, just ask her.
“It’s actually exciting for me to be able to share information with people,” McEwen said. “I don’t know everything, but I know where to look.”
McEwen, deputy clerk for the City and Borough of Juneau, received the Municipal Employee of the Year Award during the 2015 Alaska Municipal League Conference earlier this year, which doesn’t come as surprise to some of her colleagues.
During an Assembly meeting last week, deputy mayor Jesse Kiehl called McEwen a “great ambassador for our Capital City” as she was recognized for her achievement.
But McEwen said this recognition — among 35,000 possible municipal employees in the state — speaks more to the people she works with than just her individual successes. Moreover, it speaks to the kind of community Juneau is as a whole.
“Community is a focus of who I am and how I grew up because of our community being so interrelated,” she said. “It was natural for me to be working in public government.”
Her ties to local government are so strong in fact that McEwen admits to attending city meetings for fun. It’s not a job requirement, but for a self-proclaimed “government junkie,” it’s a perk.
McEwen sees her job as more than just an information hub for the city, she said she recognizes her great fortune in witnessing 18-year-olds register to vote, entering the democratic process.
“It’s great to help foster that and encourage that,” McEwen said. “(Local government) is where people actually can make a difference.”
Aside from election duties and scheduling meetings for volunteers on more than 35 public boards, there is the occasional job requirement McEwen said she never signed up for that keeps her job interesting after 15 years.
When two French citizens moved to Juneau and had trouble getting their pension checks approved by French authorities, the answer ended up being a city seal by McEwen.
“It’s kind of those odd instances where you wouldn’t even expect a local governing official to have to do something that come up and are the most rewarding,” McEwen said of the experience.
McEwen said she assisted the couple for years, even making house calls to give the city seal of approval, until the two passed away. It was one of her most interesting experiences on the job — so far.
Her roles are constantly expanding — she recently took part in a Statewide Stakeholder Working Group to re-write Title IV, the Alcoholic Beverage Control statue — and new experiences are sure to be waiting around the corner. McEwen said it’s an honor serving Juneau and she welcomes new roles as the come.
“Things come up, and you just do what needs doing,” McEwen said.