The chief administrative officer hired by the town of Stewiacke has moved on after only three months on the job.
“As with any employee, she was in a probationary period and we were both determining whether it was a good fit or not,” Mayor Wendy Robinson said of Anne MacDonnell, who was hired as CAO in early November.
“She was planning on long-term, we were planning on long-term and we were both trying to see if it was a fit or not and it turned out not to be a fit,” Robinson said. “It mutually wasn’t a fit.”
Reached at her home in Merigomish, MacDonnell did not argue with the mayor’s assessment.
“I can’t disagree with that,” MacDonnell said.
The probationary period was to run for six months and MacDonnell said the decision on the town side would come from a vote by the seven-member council, including the mayor, as mandated by the Municipal Government Act.
“As is the case with people who are unemployed, they tend to look for employment,” MacDonnell said of her immediate plans. “I’ve got a pretty diverse CV (resume). I’ve got a broad skill set. I will say definitely that I gained experience there that I previously didn’t have, which balanced out my resume. Beyond that, there was insight gained into the nuance of politics in small towns, which is handy.”
Robinson said several people had applied for the CAO job in the southern Colchester County town of about 1,400 people before MacDonnell got the nod.
“We narrowed it down and we felt, based on interviews, that she was our choice,” the mayor said.
MacDonnell grew up in New Glasgow in a civic-minded family. Her father Sean was a town councillor for 16 years. She has a background in business education, earning a doctorate degree from Swansea University in Wales. She worked for eight years in Wales and two in Germany before returning to Canada seven years ago.
She had been employed as a municipal clerk in the Region of Queens on the province’s South Shore. That job was eliminated last June when the municipality decided to split the clerk duties among three senior officials.
“Right now, I am actively considering opportunities in government, in academia and in the private sector,” said MacDonnell, who prides herself on consistency and doing things by the book. “I’ve worked in all of those areas before and I have a skill set that would support that.”
MacDonnell replaced Sheldon Dorey, who had held the CAO job for 17 years. Dorey resigned in September to accept a similar role in Baker Lake, Nunavut.
Robinson said the town will reopen a process to replace MacDonnell but it is not in a rush to do so. Grant Cook, who had been working with the town as an advisory committee member, is the interim CAO again.