Chatham-Kent’s newest top administrator is officially on the clock.
Michael Duben officially began as the chief administrative officer on Sept. 9. He was joined by a group of people gathered at the civic centre for a meet-and-greet.
“You’ve got some really hard-working people here who really know what they’re doing,” Duben said. “To be able to lead those individuals is really rewarding because every day you learn something.”
Duben, who comes from Oxford County, said he is now in a bigger organization. He said while he has lots of knowledge about municipal government, Chatham-Kent has its own unique opportunities and challenges.
“It’s also geographically a big area, so I plan to get out and visit as many of the workstations as I can,” he said.
He will replace Don Shropshire, who retired earlier this year. However, Shropshire remains to assist with the Wheatley file after last year’s gas leaks and explosion.
Before Duben officially took over, Tony Haddad, a veteran administrator, was serving in an interim role.
The new CAO said he was attracted to Chatham-Kent as he spent much time in the area more than 25 years ago. He highlighted that there is significantly more development now than in the past.
“There’s much more development now. Some neighbourhoods exist now that weren’t here when I was more familiar with the area,” he said.
Duben admitted there are several challenges in Chatham-Kent, just like any other community. He added he believes amalgamation is continuing to gain acceptance.
“It’s going to take a couple of generations for people to, hopefully, finally buy into the idea that it’s one single organization now,” he said.
Duben’s experience as a CAO includes serving the District Municipality of Muskoka for seven years, beginning in 2013, before taking the top job in Oxford County in 2020.
He also brings 10 years of experience as a senior corporate law partner at Miller Canfield LLP in Windsor.
After moving to the municipal sector, Duben served more than five years as a general manager with the City of Windsor, responsible for various departments, including parks, licensing and enforcement, planning, building, recreation, fire services and cultural affairs.
He also served as vice-president for EnWin Utilities from 2009 to 2013.
According to Mayor Darrin Canniff, Duben joins the municipality at a critical juncture as they work to recover from the challenges of the pandemic, including its economic and societal impacts, along with a vibrant level of growth and development.
“We are confident Michael’s comprehensive leadership experience, relationship building and past achievements in managing partnerships and driving value in the delivery of public services, will greatly benefit the Municipality and help Council to realize its strategic goals,” said Canniff.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News