By Melinda Munson
Those who have seen Emily Deach in her role as borough clerk, helping guide the Assembly through procedural issues, might be surprised to know she was the Municipality’s second choice.
“I was not the first pick … they took a chance on me which was very kind,” Deach said.
The Municipality originally hired Deach as an accounts payable/accounts receivable clerk in 2007.
“There was a lot of down time,” Deach said. When there was no urgent business, Deach asked Borough Clerk Marj Harris for extra work. In 2010, Harris retired and Deach applied for the position.
“I felt like it was a long shot,” Deach said. When the Borough’s first pick declined, Deach was appointed.
The job of a borough clerk is mulit-faceted. In 1934, political scientist Professor William Bennett Munro wrote the following about the duties of a clerk.
“No other office in municipal service has so many contacts. It serves the mayor, the council, the manager … and all administrative departments without exception. All of them call upon it, almost daily, for some service or information. Its work is not spectacular, but it demands versatility, alertness, accuracy and no end of patience. The public does not realize how many loose ends of city administration this office pulls together.”
Among other responsibilities, Deach attends meetings for recording purposes, ensures that meetings meet legal requirements for open access, oversees municipal elections, researches relevant issues, helps draft legislation and is the official keeper of the municipal seal. The seal, a large metal embosser, is used on various documents from certificates of achievement to municipal resolutions.
Deach describes her job as being a facilitator. She assists the mayor, the Assembly and the public.
“If I don’t know something, I can get you a document or get you to the right person,” Deach said.
Deach keeps herself out of politics and stays politically neutral.
“I rely on the facts and the data. They’re not getting my personal opinion,” Deach said.
Every so often, there are memes across Skagway Facebook pages calling for an official Emily Deach Day.
“If there’s an Emily Deach Day, I want to sign up for that. I’ll bring burgers and hotdogs,” said Mayor Andrew Cremata. “She makes this community look exceptional.” He described her as the “epitome of professionalism,” adding, “and she’s nice on top of it.”
Deach is a certified municipal clerk, which requires an annual week-long intensive training, over a period of three years. Called Institute, clerks from the west coast gather at the University of Puget Sound for the sessions. They stay in dorms and are excited to see each other year after year.
“They can get sort of wild and crazy,” Deach said. “What happens at Institute stays at Institute.”
When Deach isn’t clerking, she spends time with her husband and two children. She plays the piano, draws, paints and has a goal to read 45 books this year.
Deach said sometimes her job can be physically and emotionally taxing. At some points when the Municipality was experiencing high turnover, she filled in for the borough manager.
For the most part, Deach enjoys the challenges of her career.
“I’m serving the community. I’m useful to the community. It makes me feel good.”