SHOW LOW — “When you work in public service, your orientation is customer service,” says Ann Kurasaki, Show Low city clerk.
This statement is a perfect reflection of why Kurasaki was nominated by her superiors and peers as “Clerk of the Year” in the Arizona Municipal Clerks’ Association.
She may be small in stature and have a soft voice, but Kurasaki is a woman of fierce conviction. A short conversation with her will leave you understanding how important her role is in the community and for the city of Show Low.
Kurasaki was presented with the distinguished award during the AMCA conference July 25 in Fountain Hills.
Hired as the Show Low assistant city clerk in 1997 and advancing to city clerk in 2003, Kurasaki has been an active member of the Arizona Municipal Clerks Association and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks since 1997.
She earned Certified Municipal Clerk and Master Municipal Clerk designations in 2000 and 2010, respectively. She is both a certified municipal election official and a certified election officer through the secretary of state’s office.
As Show Low Mayor Daryl Seymore explains, Kurasaki’s “level of professionalism and her abilities are unsurpassed. Her team approach makes her an invaluable employee, while her silent service all to often goes unrecognized.”
Without diminishing Kurasaki’s professional success, it’s important to recognize that there is much more to the story behind Kurasaki’s professional acumen.
Of Japanese descent, Kurasaki was born on the island of Kauai, and raised primarily on the island of Ohauhu. Her grandparents moved from Japan to Hawaii, which is where her parents were born and where she lived for many years.
Kurasaki says her parents raised her and her two brothers with the philosophy that “education is really important.” In fact, her father was a teacher with degrees in both English and social studies.
With that in mind, Kurasaki remembers how her father, (school principal at the time), “made all three of us write an essay about what we did over the summer. The funny part of the story is that we had to write our essays during our summer vacation. Like most kids our age, we didn’t understand and appreciate the weight that our father placed on education.”
During her years in Hawaii, Kurasaki says she “created a lot of newsletters” for the private sector. This included working for a Hawaiian newspaper agency which published two daily papers. This early newspaper experience and her attention to detail seem a perfect recipe for the comprehensive, timely and precise press releases that she has been writing for the city of Show Low for many years.
Kurasaki, while the ultimate professional, has always given time to others less able or less fortunate than herself. During her time in Hawaii, she spent nine years as a volunteer for Hospice Hawaii.
She also finds time to practice a type of Hula dancing called Halau O Kanoelani. She dances with a local group that visits assisted living and care homes to perform for free.
She will tell anyone that, “being raised in a culture where you hear the phrase ‘Aloha’ all the time makes you continually consider the needs of others.” She explained that “Aloha” means hello and goodbye, but can also be used to mean “love.”
Giving your time and your patience to others is a form of love for Kurasaki. Perhaps this is why she is respected and admired on a personal and professional level.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Ann in the position of city clerk and executive assistant since 2003. She is an exemplary employee who always goes above and beyond what is expected,” Show Low City Manager Ed Muder said. “She most definitely deserves the honor of being named ‘2017 AMCA Clerk of the Year.”
“Ann has unselfishly devoted her time and talents to the improvement of the AMCA and has made significant contributions in the last 20 years by serving on committees, including playing an essential role as the chair of the Scholarship Committee for five years,” Seymore said. “She also volunteered to serve as interim AMCA board secretary in 2015 when there was a mid-term vacancy.”
When you ask Kurasaki about her role at the city of Show Low, she is humble yet ultimately steadfast in recognizing how important it is to work as a team with the same goal in mind.
“In any endeavor, there is always a customer and a team serving that customer,” she said. “Everything here at the city of Show Low is a team effort, so it doesn’t really fall on any one person.”
When she has free time, Kurasaki enjoys spending it outdoors and traveling with her husband.
“I also love to cook but when I have extra time, I like to read cookbooks,” she said.
Kurasaki said kindness and injustice are important issues to her.
“I don’t like injustice. It’s frustrating when people complain but they don’t want to do anything about it,” she said. “We have to put ourselves into their shoes and fight against injustice placed on others.”