20 years on the front lines

Gossett celebrates City Hall career
By Nicholas Johnson | Jan 04, 2017
Courtesy of: Shawna Gossett Shawna Gossett

Anyone who’s walked into Mukilteo City Hall over the past 20 years has invariably been greeted each time by the same person – permit services supervisor Shawna Gossett.

“I do think people have come to recognize me over the years,” said Gossett, who on Dec. 30 celebrated two decades with the city – all of which she’s spent on the front lines, working the city’s Information Desk and Permit Center.

“The permit center is the front door of the city,” Gossett, 54, said. “While we handle building permits and act as the cashier for the city, someone coming in might be looking for the mayor or a planner or anyone, really. My role is to provide the best customer service I can for anyone who walks in those doors.”

Gossett and her husband, Brett, moved to the area in 1996 after Brett was hired at SNOPAC 911, a regional public safety dispatch center.

Both had previously worked for the City of Spokane, with Shawna in public works. Prior to that, Shawna worked as treasurer in Kootenai County, Idaho.

“Most of my adult career has been with a county or a city,” she said. “When we came out here, I knew I wanted to stay with a city, and I was lucky enough to find my place at Mukilteo.”

Shawna was hired as department assistant. Within her first year, she was promoted into the supervisory role she’s held since.

“When I started in ‘96, the planning staff said we were approaching full buildout,” she said. “That didn’t pan out as far as how busy we were for the next 10 years or so until the economic downturn in 2008.”

Homes in the Harbour Pointe area, which was annexed into the city in 1991, were still being built when she started.

“When I started, we were using a typewriter to process permits,” she said. “We were busy manually handling the paper records for all those permits. The evolution of technology is probably the most significant thing I’ve seen in last 20 years.”

Today, the city’s online permit center allows homeowners to get mechanical, plumbing and re-roof permits without visiting City Hall, and it allows people to apply for other permits – such as those for fire alarms and signs – that must be picked up and paid for in person.

“That has really helped out the homeowners in the community,” she said.

In 2009, the city purchased permit-tracking software, making more information more easily accessible to the public.

“That was a huge technology jump for us,” she said. “It really simplified things. By that time, we weren’t still typing up permits, the computer was generating them, but having that tracking software definitely streamlined our processing of paper work and made data available through a simple online search.”

Permit activity on the whole has yet to slow, she said, but the type has shifted from new construction projects to home remodels and renovations.

“Now, we really are approaching full buildout,” she said of new construction. “There really is not a lot of land in Mukilteo to develop anymore.”

Regardless of permit activity, Shawna said she loves providing great customer service.

“That is where my strength is, and that is where I get the most satisfaction from my job,” Shawna said, recalling her time working in accounting while in Spokane, a job that did not involve much customer service.

“I’m not sure where I would have ended up in my career if my husband hadn’t gotten a job here. I just really like helping people.”

When she’s not behind City Hall’s front desk, she’s hitting the local links.

“I golf as often as I can,” said Shawna, who goes to Clubhouse Golf Center in Lynnwood once a week during the winter months. “I get to keep swinging, and that’s what I like to do.”

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