July 16, 2015 - 8:30 AM
PENTICTON - The City of Penticton means business as it welcomes a new Chief Administrative Office to city staff.
Penticton’s new city manager is coming into the office with no prior experience, but Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says he doesn’t think that will be an issue.
The city announced yesterday the hiring of Eric Sorensen as the new chief administrator. Sorensen’s background is in the private corporate world, with no previous experience in running a municipality, other than serving on committees and some contract work.
“That’s fine because the Community Charter isn’t overly complicated, it’s easy to get a basic understanding (of),” Jakubeit says, noting city clerk Dana Schmidt’s job is to understand the charter and tell council what the city can and can’t do.
Jakubeit feels an astute leader could read the charter and get a good grasp of what it’s all about.
“The rest is about leadership,” he says.
Jakubeit sees the position as one in which the administrator demonstrates leadership, works with council and gets the most of staff. While not aware of another municipality hiring a CAO completely out of the corporate sector, the mayor feels municipalities are trending to hire entrepreneurial-minded management groups.
“If you’re partnering or working with the business community, it helps if you understand what their struggles, issues and concerns are. I think in the past, city administrators have come through the clerk’s office, so they know how to push paper, they don’t necessarily understand how to leverage and maximize opportunities. If you don’t make the sale, you don’t eat,” he says.
Jakubeit feels the city needs a “business lens” in order to run the municipality effectively and efficiently, saying sharp people are needed to do that, with a leader who knows how to foster those initiatives and provide council with the knowledge required to be proactive rather than reactive.
Conducting city business with a private business attitude may have its conflicts, Jakubeit alluded, noting in the corporate world you created your strategy, then went out and did it, while in the public sector, you create your strategy, then engage the community to ensure the strategy fits with public ideas.
Jakubeit says Sorensen will have to make any adjustments necessary to handle the public side of the job, including public criticism and media scrutiny.
“Eric, having lived in Penticton, having been part of our committees, having lived and worked in the Okanagan, is not naive to the culture of Penticton. He’s not walking in blind, his eyes are wide open,” Jakubeit says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015