So long, farewell, says long-time city employee

On Wednesday Dec. 31, Kathy McCluskey traded in her 10- to 12-hour days as the director of administrative services for a trip to Lake Tahoe followed by a long European vacation.

Ah, retirement won’t be bad at all.

After 26 years directing and creating projects in Bremerton’s city government, McCluskey is cleaning out her desk and following her husband, Terry, a Kitsap County Superior Court Judge, out onto the open road.

He retires on Friday, and later next week they will begin a skiing trip with family reunions along the way.

City hall employees hosted a farewell celebration for McCluskey on Monday, calling her a trailblazer for professional women, a friend and a calm leader.

“When I first started I was the only woman elected official in Bremerton,” McCluskey said. “I was also the only woman department head for a number of years. It was really more of a man’s field. Women were typically looked at as support staff. It changed gradually over time.”

Although men weren’t openly rude to McCluskey, salaries were unequal early on, she said.

At the time of her retirement, McCluskey was the seventh-highest payed city employee at $91,757. There are 343 city employees total.

Elaine Valencia, Mayor Cary Bozemen’s executive assistant, called McCluskey a mentor. Valencia has worked in city hall for 29 years.

“She’s a hard worker and she’s intelligent,” Valencia said. No matter what the situation she always conducted herself very professionally.”

Parks and Recreation Director Jim Spencer emceed the event on Tuesday.

“I tried to dig up a little dirt on Kathy,” he said, “But that’s pretty dang hard. What you see is what you get.”

Her employees described her as a tireless worker who always had the phone to her ear, a couple people on hold and several waiting outside her office.

McCluskey would arrive to work at 8 a.m. and leave around 7 p.m. Sometimes budget meetings would keep her away from her family until 10 p.m.

McCluskey’s recipe for success is balancing work, fun and community service.

Besides overseeing the departments of information and technology, public access television, finance, records and Bremerton’s municipal court, McCluskey spent numerous hours volunteering for service organizations in the city. The following is a snapshot of her resume:

l 1978, elected the city clerk

l 1983, United Way board of directors

l 1985, appointed administrative services director

l started BKAT (Bremerton Kitsap Access Television)

l 1987, started city’s recycling program

l 1991, YMCA board of directors

l 1992, United Way president

l 1992, Rotary board of directors

l 1994, Harrison Hospital board of directors

l 1998, directed development of city Web page

McCluskey also worked with Congressman Norm Dicks and Mayor Lynn Horton to get 44 acres of Eastpark property for the city.

She helped negotiate the purchase of the U.S. Bank building for the new police station, and has managed the public safety bond project to purchase new fire and police department vehicles.

Currently, construction for the fire department will begin in April, and the police department will begin in May. Bids for construction will proceed in March and April.

After McCluskey leaves, Economic Development Director Gary Sexton will hire a contracted employee to oversee the construction of the public safety bond projects. The Bremerton City Council just voted to eliminate McCluskey’s position after she leaves. Her job description will be a topic of discussion in January when they reorganize that department.

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