CAO search begins for County CAO
All four counties in Cape Breton have seen top administrative turnover in the past year
After all four municipal Chief Administrative Officers (CAO) on Cape Breton Island retired, resigned or were fired during the past year, Victoria County is looking for professionals to head the hunt for its new top executive.
County Warden Bruce Morrison said August 25 that Council is looking for recruitment firms to sift through candidates to replace Sandy Hudson, who retires as CAO in October.
“We will send out an invitation to several recruitment companies,” Morrison said. “They’ll initiate the search and help us with advertisements and selection of quality candidates.”
Hudson was talented and Council recognized that, Morrison said.
“He was very good, and we will certainly miss him. He was with us for 15 years, and we’ve appreciated the work he did and his genuine interest in operating the Municipality.”
Hudson’s stint as CAO ends officially October 15, but with vacation time accumulated, he cleaned out his office weeks ago.
Leanne Maceachen, Director of Finance, is the interim CAO.
The turnover in similar positions on the island has been high recently.
In the CBRM, Marie Walsh took over in July from Michael Merritt, who resigned in March after three years on the job.
Richmond County’s Warren Olsen resigned in November amid a spending scandal, and was replaced by Maris Freimanis on a six-month contract. Freimanis said at the outset he would not extend the term. Since then, Louis Digout has signed on, but only for a similar period.
And, Inverness County CAO Joe O’connor announced in August that he is retiring after 42 years.
Victoria County will cast a “provincial and national net” to replace retiring Hudson, Morrison said.
“One of the reasons we decided to go with a search company is they have the expertise and will advertise in areas that we can’t access,” he said. “A lot of municipalities do that, and it’s no different for us.”
The new CAO will be responsible for understanding the Municipal Government Act, which regulates council.
“That’s critical,” Morrison said. “Also, people and communication skills, because you’re dealing with the public.”
Part of the challenge for the new CAO will be relieving council of the day-to-day duties of running local government without overstepping decisionmaking boundaries.
“That’s why I think most of the people will need a professional background,” Morrison said. “It’s the most important job in government for any municipality. They direct staff. They oversee the budget. They’re responsible for policy and planning a lot of the day-to-day activity. They’re also responsible for hiring most of the staff.”
Baddeck, with its lakeside attractions, is a good drawing card for high-calibre candidates, Morrison said.
“Clearly, there will be a lot of interest in this position because of the location.”
Retiring CAO Sandy Hudson