Sturgeon County – After several months of searching, recruiting and interviewing, Sturgeon County Council has ended up with a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) who has been performing the job in an interim capacity since November of 2011. Council voted 4-3 in favour of appointing Peter Tarnowsky as CAO Tuesday morning. Mayor Don Rigney and Councillors David Kluthe and Don McGeachy, long opponents of his being hired, voted in opposition to Tarnawsky receiving the post.
Sturgeon County employed the services of Russ Farmer and Associates in January to assist the County in the recruitment process. That process was prompted by the resignation of former CAO Chris Micek last November. Micek’s departure came shortly after his dismissal of Tarnawsky as General Manager of Public Services, a position Tarnawsky held from June of 2009 until his dismissal from the post in October of 2011.
Tarnaswsky said he felt good about Council’s decision to select him as permanent CAO. “I’m glad to have the opportunity to serve as Sturgeon County’s CAO to work with and on behalf of Council and staff with industry and the broader community to help build the county that Council has envisioned,” Tarnawsky said early Tuesday afternoon. “I’m satisfied with Council’s decision, and as they are, I’m satisfied with the progress we’ve made in the past seven months.”
Speaking to the opposition to his hiring by Mayor Rigney and Councillors Don McGeachy and David Kluthe, Tarnawsky said the past seven months have shown Council has found a way to work together and to work with him as Interim CAO. “One of the ways successful CAOs work is by considering all decisions of Council as unanimous regardless of the count,” he said.
When appointed as Interim CAO last November, Tarnawsky said he would only throw his hat in the ring for the job on a permanent basis if he felt his obtaining the position was in his and Sturgeon County’s interests. “I think over the past number of months things have moved along quite well,” he said. “It’s a job that I expressed interest in as long as four years ago, and I look forward to the opportunity to work on behalf of Council to bring about their plan [and] to help achieve the growth.”
For Tarnawsky there is the belief that Sturgeon County faces tremendous growth opportunities in the future with the Sturgeon Industrial Park, Northwest Redwater Partnership upgrader, and residential developments near Villeneuve and in the Sturgeon Valley. “Fundamentally, Sturgeon County will be different in three years and five years from now than it is now,” he said. “I think that really makes it a desirable community within which to work.”
Although he sees the shape and scope of Sturgeon County changing over the next half decade, he has no plans for changing much within the organization in the short term. “In many respects it continues to be steady as she goes,” Tarnawsky said, adding around the time he was appointed Interim CAO he told his staff he was going to work in the position as if he were going to be there for six years. “In many respects I don’t anticipate a bunch of change later today, tomorrow morning or in the weeks to come. It’s a matter of continued focus on Council’s strategy and Council’s business plan, and – in the end – delivering on those key priorities.”
Tarnawsky praised his staff for their efforts over the past months in maintaining that focus. “I have to acknowledge the commitment and patience of Sturgeon County staff through this transition, and their unwavering commitment to the community,” he said. “I’m pleased that we’re going to be able to have the opportunity to work together to continue to deliver services efficiently and effectively, and at the will of Council.”