Deb Runksmeier wasn't looking for a new job when she saw the posting for deputy clerk and office manager for the city of Breezy Point. The position spoke to her all the same, and in late July she left her former job to get involved in city government.
Runksmeier worked alongside Kathy Millard for a few months to learn the ropes. When Millard retired at the end of September, Runksmeier officially took over.
"It's a lot to learn," said Runksmeier. "I have big shoes to fill."
The role of deputy clerk and office manager involves a combination of clerical work and public interaction. Runksmeier said she gets materials ready for meetings, stays updated on the goings-on of each city department, acts as a go-between with the police department and city hall, navigates communication with the public and "overall keeps things moving."
"I like to be organized and have lots of different tasks to work on," she said. "I thought this job might be something I was good at."
Runksmeier had experience in a similar role as an office manager at Precision Waterjet Concepts, a manufacturing company in Jenkins. The biggest difference, she said, is the public nature of city government.
"The public always surprises you," she said. "It's interesting to see the things the residents are concerned with and how people interact with each other."
More often than not, Breezy Point residents will call city hall with questions, comments or concerns rather than attending public meetings. This means Runksmeier fields a significant number of these calls and is responsible for directing them to the correct city employee.
This can be a daunting task for someone who is still learning the ins and outs of the city.
"There are lots of questions I still don't know the answers to," said Runksmeier.
Still, she said the regular interaction with the public is her favorite part of the position.
The city recently created a Facebook page for Breezy Point, which Runksmeier helped to create.
"We want to make it something people want to follow and interact with," she said. "It will hopefully be a place for fun things and be informational at the same time."
Runksmeier lived in Blue Earth before earning a degree in recreation administration from St. Cloud State University. Following graduation, she moved to Pequot Lakes in 2000 with her husband, Josh.
"I moved here because it had less stoplights than Brainerd," joked Runksmeier.
She and her husband both grew up in fairly small towns and looked forward to returning to that lifestyle. Their family is very outdoor-oriented, she said, which matched well to opportunities available up north.
The family's first interaction with the city of Breezy Point happened when Runksmeier brought her kids, Caleb and Natalie, now 15 and 11, to the Little People Learning Center for daycare nearly a decade ago. There, she met other Breezy Point families and started building a connection to the area.
"The more you see people, the closer you get to them," said Runksmeier. "We like to say there's 'Breezy Point Nice' here."
The concept of "Breezy Point Nice" applies within city hall as well. Runksmeier said the office is a fun environment and it was easy to get acclimated. During the holiday season, if someone left the office for a significant amount of time, others in city hall would go in and surprise them with a fully decorated room.
While Runksmeier's job has many different facets, it all boils down to helping Breezy Point continue to grow and flourish however possible.
Runksmeier is often the first face people see upon entering Breezy Point City Hall, or the first voice they hear when they call.
"People sometimes think (Breezy Point) is just a resort, not a city, when I tell them where I work," said Runksmeier. "I want to remind people that we're a city, that we're here."