The City of Seward will move forward with Janette Bower as its next city manager following a unanimous indication of support by the Seward City Council at their Monday night meeting.
Bower currently serves as the city administrator, a position similar to that of a city manager, for the City of Wadena, in Minnesota and was one of three finalists the council identified from an initial pool of seven applicants. Bower attended Griffin Business College and has worked in local government for 20 years, 16 of which were in Alaska, including Palmer and Bethel. In both cities, Bower worked as the city clerk.
After being selected as the council’s finalist candidate, Bower was able to attend an in-person interview with the council last week following a negative COVID-19 test. In that interview, Bower said that the biggest challenges she expects to face if selected for the position include the city’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the city prepares for another season with a loss of cruise ships.
“People are ready to get out and about and to get out of their community and go to another community,” Bower said. “What I’ve noticed in our area … coming from the towns next to us coming in and spending money in our community, and vice versa, and I believe that will happen here.”
Bower said her greatest weaknesses are math and her sense of direction and that her greatest strength is bringing people together to solve problems.
Seward Mayor Christy Terry emphasized how active Sewardites are in local government and in engaging in community discussions about civic issues like diversity and inclusion, and asked Bower what experience she had with similar issues. Bower said that her community is not very diverse but that they’ve been implementing changes made by the Minnesota legislature.
“I don’t see diversity, we’re all just people and we all need to come together to solve issues …” Bower said. “I do realize that sometimes it’s harder than that. I do understand that it’s harder than that and I respect that.”
During their deliberation of Bower on Monday, every member of the Seward City Council voiced their support for moving forward with her as their next city manager.
“I think we ended up with exactly who we should have and I’m excited about it,” said council member Liz DeMoss.
Bower is not likely to begin working at Seward for at least another month while contract negotiations are made. Bower also told the council that she has to give 30 days notice to the city council she currently works for at their next meeting.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.