Susan Wilcox said she was "surprised" when Mayor Dave Carey told her he wanted her to be his new chief of staff.
A couple of weeks ago, the mayor came into Wilcox's office - she's currently the mayor's special assistant - and said it was his plan to promote her.
"At first I didn't say anything because I was surprised," Wilcox recalled. "And then I was like, 'Are you serious? Are you sure you want me?'"
Now, On July 1, which is just a week and a half away, Wilcox will become the mayor's top aide - a job that pays $81,977 per year.
Wilcox says she's ready.
"I don't really have any concerns. I'm more focused on doing a good job," Wilcox said. "A job that shows our constituents that the mayor is working for their best interest."
Wilcox might feel prepared because a lot of her current responsibilities as the mayor's special assistant will be rolled over into her chief of staff job. Those duties include administrative oversight of many of the borough's departments and service area boards.
Department heads who currently work closely with Special Assistant Wilcox said they think Chief of Staff Wilcox will aptly handle additional work.
"She's great. She's very supportive," Bonita Miller, the borough's general services director, said. "She's always been pretty good about offering assistance. She's got the pulse of what's going on. As a supervisor, she's encouraging, and she tries to be helpful if she can."
Tom Anderson, the borough's assessor, also shared kind words on Wilcox's behalf.
"I have had a positive working relationship with Sue (Wilcox). She seems to be attentive and responsive and just positive and pleasant to work with," Anderson said.
Wilcox considers herself a good leader and believes her subordinates would speak highly of her managerial style.
"They would say that I'm honest and I'm fair and I'm not quick to judge, and I bring a sense of calm to the process," Wilcox said. "And that I'm great to work for."
Wilcox, who is slowly working on her associate's degree in business at Kenai Peninsula College, has been an administrative assistant or an executive assistant in the central Kenai Peninsula region since 1994, according to her resume.
She graduated from Kenai Central High School in 1978 and earned completion certificates in office occupations and accounting in 1979 from Seward's Alaska Vocational Tech Center.
Before taking her current job as the borough mayor's special assistant, Wilcox served as the assistant to Soldotna's former city manager, Thomas Boedeker, between August 2006 and October of 2008.
"She likes people and she likes working with them. She likes handling them and she's pretty good when dealing with the savage beast," Boedeker said. "She listens to them, she hears what they have to say and is pretty good at explaining the other side of the fence and why things are done the way they are done."
Wilcox said the jump from the city to the borough was a good learning experience because it taught her how to handle a lot of new challenges quickly.
"On the city level it's fast-paced, but the borough is 100 times that. There's much more going on and much more to do, and I didn't have a concept that I would be doing what I would be doing," Wilcox said of transitioning from the city to the borough. "But I started taking on jobs that needed to be done, just stepping up to the plate."
Wilcox also spent nearly three years as the executive assistant to Central Peninsula Hospital's CEO and seven years as an assistant to a manager at Union Oil Company of California in the company's Kenai office.
Before that, she worked as an administrative assistant to the Kenai Fire Department's chief, and she worked briefly as an accounts payable clerk in North Carolina in 1994, according to her resume.
Wilcox said she likes working for others.
"I enjoy the public service and connecting with people and helping them solve their day-to-day issues and making their lives better," Wilcox said.
As the chief of staff, Wilcox intends to take it one project at a time. She pointed to the school roofs bond issue as a top priority in the immediate future.
"Being in the mayor's office there's lots of little hurdles," Wilcox said. "That's my role as his chief of staff is to achieve his goals."
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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