Rani Gill, the right-hand assistant to five Superior mayors, retired Friday, April 17 after serving the city for 30 years.
Known for being a good communicator and staying calm under pressure, Gill has been the first point of contact for citizens, media and officials seeking to speak to the mayor. She’s given speeches and proclamations, and has served as city public information officer and as a Chamber Ambassador for the city, in addition to decades of involvement with the Sister City program and Superior Days.
“I love that office,” Gill said. “I’m very proud of that office, where I’m leaving it at.”
One asset Gill brought to the job was history.
“You need somebody that can carry the history from year to year, from administration to administration,” said Margaret Ciccone, the first woman to serve as Superior’s mayor.
Former Mayor Dave Ross said there were few problems she hadn't seen before.
"I depended on her for guidance, historical perspective," he said.
Over the years, Gill’s title changed to reflect the role she plays, from staff assistant to administrative assistant to executive assistant. Under former Mayor Bruce Hagen, Gill’s title changed to chief of staff.
And she got things done.
“My husband Fred, he always used to call her ‘the general,’” Ciccone said.
Gill’s parents were from India, but she was born in Kenya in East Africa. The family moved to Birmingham, England when Gill was 9 years old. Her marriage to Baji Gill, a University of Wisconsin-Superior graduate, brought her to Superior in 1985.
She worked for the city under Mayor Herb Bergson, but wasn't asked to serve the mayor's office until Ciccone was elected in 1995.
“She has a talent for being calm when she needs to be,” Ciccone said, and for inspiring trust. “I would trust her with just about anything.”
Gill went on to serve under mayors Sharon Kotter, Ross, Hagen and Jim Paine.
The retired chief of staff said she enjoys taking on challenges, and the mayor’s office offered plenty of opportunities. The biggest was balancing the 24/7 job she loved with raising a family. Daughter Sumen is 32; son Vikram is 28. Gil credited a good network of friends for their help.
Over the years, Gill has worked with different mayoral personalities and changing political landscapes by maintaining her professionalism.
“I can adjust myself to different people. It’s hard at first, but I think you take that into consideration that this is your job,” Gill said.
One of her proudest moments was reopening Fairlawn Mansion in 1998 after its renovation.
She’s been a passionate supporter of the Sister City program with Ami-Machi, Japan and has traveled to the country four times. One of the highest-ranking officials she’s dealt with was a member of the President Donald Trump's staff who called during the Husky Refinery fire.
Gill had a word of advice for her successor.
“Be patient and be a good listener,” she said.
Gill encouraged residents to keep in mind that the chief of staff is a first point of contact to send them in the right direction and help them.
Retirement plans for Gill include spending time with her 1-year-old granddaughter, Asha, and at the family’s camper in Barnes. She expects that her husband Baji, a realtor, will be retiring soon.
Ross said Gill is an able administrator with a deep love for the community, her family and her children.
“She’s been a really, thoroughly committed Superiorite,” Ross said.
And a good friend.
“She has served our city well,” said Ciccone, who took part in a drive-by parade at Gill’s home April 17 to celebrate her retirement. “She works very hard for the community. She works hard for her family and her friends. She is a lovely human being.”