On the Job with Mayor Laurie Gere

To visitors, Anacortes, Washington is a small town, quaint and touristy, a great place to vacation. But being mayor of this small community is a BIG job and Laurie Gere enjoys being Mayor.

“Being mayor is the coolest job I have ever had.”

Laurie Gere owns a small business in Anacortes. Known for its great food and large sandwiches, the popular Gere-a-Deli has been in business for over thirty years. The deli and the catering business employs a large staff and has been committed to this community since the doors opened, and so has Laurie Gere.

“I love my town,” Laurie said. Her long history of service to the town is evident. She served on the Chamber Board, served as Chamber President, has been on the Anacortes Planning Commission, and served many years on the Island Hospital Board of Commissioners, including as Chair. She has received numerous awards over the years, recognizing her dedication to community and to her business.

Around sixteen years ago the seed was planted that she should run for mayor. “People would ask me when was I going to run for mayor,” Laurie said. With Gere-a-Deli growing and keeping a tight rein on her availability, she felt she wasn’t ready yet. But, during each election, the seed grew a little more until finally she decided the time was right.

“If I was mayor I could make a difference.”

Anacortes is still very much a working town with diverse industries and economic layers, which require a strong leader, someone to help manage and coordinate.

And with her experience as a businesswoman in finance and public offices, Laurie felt she was ready and qualified. Going from a small business to mayor was a natural transition for Laurie Gere. She felt she had everything she needed in her toolbox to prepare her for the job.

With a new job comes some adjustments and for Laurie learning a new career was exciting, and yet, there were flutters of being the new kid on the block. Just learning names, and who did what, the departments, and how the departments interacted, took some time. Going from a private small business to a leadership role in a public entity was an adjustment. “The biggest change was the hours,” Laurie laughed. As a small business owner, especially a deli and catering business, she worked long hours, was up early, worked weekends, and put in long days. But her time was her own and flexible when it needed to be.

The job of mayor has more of a set schedule; it is more of an 8-5-type job. Yet, you will still find her working after hours and on the weekends, attending functions, events, or meetings. As a small business owner she was mostly accountable to herself, her staff, and her customers, but as mayor her decisions now affect city staff, the whole community, even regional areas. She had to learn the ropes of how a city government was run, the laws and RCWs, and the government process.

“I wanted a chance to lead and to empower,” Laurie said about the close to two hundred people employed by the city. She wanted to change the culture somewhat and give them the ability to do their jobs and do them well. By trust and empowerment, Laurie has provided a place for city employees to grow and flourish, and, the bond between city employees, city council, and the mayor is stronger.

City employees are experts in their fields, committed to working hard, dedicated to Anacortes and volunteering in the community. Librarians with masters degrees, museum workers passionate about preserving Anacortes history, engineers, police, fire and EMTs, who see people at their worst, which is when they want to do their best, the guy in the shop who can fix or create just about anything, staff with degrees in chemistry working at the water treatment plant, sanitation, parks, and the IT guys who protect the city from cyber attacks - each plays an important role in the functioning of this community.

“They’re committed to what they do for the city. From Planning Director to the guy that works in the shop, they are dedicated and work hard,” Laurie said.

Born the oldest, Laurie has always been a leader. “My dad said I was born in charge,” she laughed. Not in charge in a bossy way, but in the way where she sees the whole picture and directs how to reach goals. She has a gift for learning quickly, making decisions, and envisioning where to lead. She also has another gift: Confidence. As a child her parents said, “daughter go do, you can do anything.” It was this confidence that helped her build a successful small business in a small community, to lead others, and to commit to being mayor of Anacortes. She thanks her parents for giving her the chance to experience and learn, it prepared her for doing the job she does today.

Being mayor is an ideal job for someone who loves her community. Someone who loves to make things happen, solve problems, bring groups together to build a better future, sculpt good leaders, teach, and empower. Laurie wants to lay a solid foundation for the future and one way to do that is through our youth. Under Laurie’s leadership, the city has seen more of the younger generation become involved and committed to their community.

For Laurie Gere, being mayor has been a great job. It has provided opportunities she would not have experienced as a deli owner. She has spent time out in the farmlands, walking the fields and learning about irrigation, traveled to Washington D.C. and talked to the Department of the Interior, experienced different cultures and cultivated new and old relationships while touring Japan with the Anacortes Sister City Association. The city’s bond with sister city Sydney, B.C. has strengthened and formed a tighter alliance.

Laurie also has more personal time. She loves to write for the A-Town publication. Loves to read, walk the forestland, garden, and getting to know her community more.

“I live where people come to vacation,” Laurie said with pride.

What she has learned about herself by being mayor is that she does not have to do it all. She trusts and empowers everyone around here, not just in city hall, but also in her business, and in the community.

Laurie Gere dreamed of serving her community as Mayor. Her dream of a woman strong in determination and passionate about making a difference, while doing what she loves, has come true.

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Created By
Karla Locke

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