JoAnn Cram, Tomah city clerk, has served the city for 34 years, and 25 have been as city clerk.
She was recognized by her peers for her quarter century of service during the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association Conference on August 21.
Cram said it felt “wonderful” to be recognized by her fellow clerks.
“It was very nice, everyone claps,” she said. “I’ve been going to the conferences every year since I became a clerk, and it seems like there’s fewer and fewer that stay for the 25 years, but it’s kind of a mile marker and it felt good.”
Berta Downs, deputy clerk for the city of Tomah, said she’s proud of Cram, whom she looks up to as her mentor both at and away from work.
“It’s really great to see that she’s being recognized in her field of work,” she said. “She’s a very dedicated, hard-working woman, and I kind of envy her. She’s done very well for the city.”
Cram was born and raised in Tomah and is a graduate of Tomah High School. She is married to James Cram, and they have three children and five grandchildren.
After getting married, Cram and her family moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, where they remained for 11 years before returning to Tomah in 1985.
Following her return to Tomah, Cram got a job performing data entry at a phone company. Cram found typing numbers all day “monotonous,” so when a position opened up as a clerk at the Tomah Police Department, she applied.
She remained at the police department for almost 10 years, only leaving when the municipal clerk position opened up at city hall.
After becoming clerk, Cram put in the work to become a Wisconsin Certified Professional Clerk, a process that takes years. She achieved that designation in 2009.
To become certified, Cram must be an active member of the WMCA, have served as a clerk for at least eight years and have already attained the designation of Wisconsin Certified Municipal Clerk and/or Certified Municipal Clerk through the International Municipal Clerks Association.
In addition, she had to acquire a minimum of 120 points from advanced education, at least 25 points from professional and social contributions and have completed the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Master Academy Program, college credits, completion of professional related seminars or courses and professional and social contributions, including teaching or training at a clerk-related event, serving on the WMCA executive board or chair a WMCA committee, etc.
The years have flown by since she became clerk, Cram said. She has enjoyed her time at city hall.
“I guess I love it, the people and the work,” she said. “I’m busy, every day is different ... Also I love the challenge, because it’s always changing and laws are always changing and rules and reports and how you do things. I just love the challenge, love the job. No two days are ever the same.”
The biggest change to the job is elections, Cram said. When she started the manual was 58 pages long. Now it’s 191 pages.
“To this day it still amazes me how much work one election is,” she said.
Other big changes are dealing with the voter registration list, election administration and the size of the city, Cram said. She has also witnessed changes in the people who make up city hall and city government. Throughout her time as clerk she’s worked with eight mayors, five administrators and 49 council members.
“There are always lots of changes,” she said.