Part of the community

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

For nearly 10 years Ann Kasel has been Austin’s City Clerk, but she is now stepping down to take position with the City of Rochester


For just under 10 years, Ann Kasel has seen a lot during her time as Austin’s city clerk.

Working around statutes and ordinances, maintaining official elections, handling the minutes of City Council meetings and perhaps must publicly, heading  up elections in the city.

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However, her time will come to an end on Friday, as she looks forward to a new position with the City of Rochester as its deputy city clerk.

Kasel will begin her new job on Monday, Jan. 8.

“I would say it was a really great experience,” Kasel said of her time as Austin city clerk, a position she started in July of 2013. “The tasks we do are very cyclical. We do the same thing every year at the same time. The people of Austin have made this job really great and to me all the different community members are doing different projects — It was really fun.”

While Kasel has spent over 10 years in city government, she was initially taking a law route, going to college at Winona State University for paralegal with the thought of going to law school following completion of that program.

Having done an internship, Kasel decided to pursue being a paralegal for a time, and it was through this pipeline that she found her way to the city.

Kasel spent 10 years with Baudler, Maus, Forman & King before moving to Hoversten, Johnson, Beckman & Hovey, LLP.

“I just thought it would be an interesting opportunity to discuss local government and get more involved in the community,” Kasel said.

However, aside from the everyday jobs of the city clerk, Kasel has also had the opportunity to become even more involved with her community, including Austin’s own Hall of Fame, if you will.

“There’s been some really unique projects I’ve been involved with, like the Pillars of the Community,” Kasel said. “That’s been a really fun thing. Get involved in the community and honor people and learn about Austin’s history.”

Kasel said that she got recruited into the Pillars of the Community by former Mayor Tom Stiehm.

“‘All right Ann, let’s get this going. We’re going to do this,’” Kasel recalls Stiehm saying. “And we did.”

At the same time, though, there have been some challenging times as well.

The 2020 election promised and delivered to be one of the most impactful elections in American history, and further complicating the logistics of that election was the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced unique new ways for people to cast their votes.

For Austin, that meant moving all voting, aside from mail-in and drop-off voting, to the Holiday Inn. A challenge to be sure, but Kasel said she saw the best of everybody involved.

“That was a huge undertaking during the pandemic,” Kasel said. “We were short-staffed here. It was really a challenge, but it was successful. It was kind of a triumph for us.”

Kasel said her move to Rochester has always been part of a hope to someday work in a larger place, though her family will continue living in Austin.

“I don’t have little kids anymore. It doesn’t require me to be home for school pick-ups anymore,” Kasel said. “I always wanted to go to a bigger city. It was out there so I thought I would try.”

One of the things Kasel said she will take away from her time in Austin is the partnerships between city and community. Using the Oak Park Mall, Kasel explained that there is always somebody waiting to make Austin a better place.

“When there is an idea out there, there are always the community partnership out there that are willing to make that happen,” Kasel said.