Seward City Hall close up

On April 15, the Seward Department of Motor Vehicles office temporarily ceased operation due to the departure of all city employees trained in DMV procedures. Not officially part of the Alaska DMV, the City of Seward is contracted by the state to address the needs of its citizens, and the local office, which operates as part of the police department, is staffed by two positions, a DMV clerk and a police executive assistant. Police Chief Alan Nickell said that both staffers resigned within a short time, leaving no one trained to fill the vacancies.

“It was kind of weird,” said Nickell. “I had the two people that were trained to do it leave at basically the same time, one day apart. Quite a coincidence, but I guess it’s the right time of year for it. If you’re going to leave, this is probably when you’d want to do it.”

The office is staffed primarily by the DMV clerk, but the police executive assistant is designated as backup to the clerk, in addition to the other requirements of the position.

“The executive assistant is primarily an aid to my office,” Nickell said. “That’s the main job. Basically what they do, then, is they back up the DMV. If our DMV person goes on vacation or something like that, they can fill in, or if they call in sick, I can send the assistant up there to take care of the appointments or whatever is going on. And then they have roles here in the department too.”

Nickell stated that although the clerk position is still vacant, his office has already filled the executive assistant position since the previous assistant’s resignation. He added that though one of the two required positions are now filled, it will still be some time before the DMV can reopen, owing to the state’s rotating schedule for DMV training in Anchorage, with required training sessions commonly spread over time, and often sessions in two or more distinct areas of training scheduled simultaneously.

“They have a rotating constant training schedule, but the trainings are really spread out,” Nickell said. “For example, anyone that’s going to work in the DMV, we need them to have basic vehicle title and registration training and basic driver’s license issuance training, and there’s a thing called STAR training, which is the driver’s testing software. And all those things are spread out over a course of time. One class might be going on, but that overlaps one of the other ones that you needed, so then you have to push that one out further so you can get it. It’s a challenge for sure.”

Nickell went on to say that the requirement for trainees to attend all sessions in Anchorage makes training expensive as well as difficult to schedule. He added that because the training timetable is such a bottleneck, it only reinforces the urgency of his need to fill the remaining vacancy. Though the clerk position is still open, Nickell expects to begin interviews soon.

“We’ve already got several applications,” he said. “I’m going to be starting interviews quickly. I’m not going to delay that process at all. The goal here is to get that position filled as quickly as we can, and move on.”

Nickell went on to express his appreciation for citizen patience while the new hires await training before the office can reopen. 

“People should remain optimistic,” he said. “It is going to take a while to get this training done, and that’s unfortunate, but we are going to get it reopened, and we’ll get that done as quickly as we can. It’s going to be okay.”

Those wishing to apply for the position of DMV clerk can find more information at cityofseward.us/Home/Components/JobPosts/Job/186/129. Sewardites in need of DMV services may schedule an appointment with other state offices at doa.alaska.gov/dmv/.