Town begins search for new chief administrator

The Town of NOTL is looking for a new Jack Sparrow to captain its ship.

Right now, Bruce Zvaniga has the helm as Niagara-on-the-Lake’s chief administrative officer.

However, his role is temporary, meant to float the ship in the absence of former chief administrator Marnie Cluckie, who left in January to become city manager in Hamilton.

At a meeting on Feb. 13, council formed a committee to find someone to fill the chief administrative officer position long-term.

The committee is comprised of Couns. Maria Mavridis, Sandra O’Connor and Erwin Wiens, Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa and Zvaniga.

When it came time to put names forward for the committee, councillors were eager beavers — five threw their hat in the ring.

“I do see great importance in this task,” said Coun. Tim Balasiuk, who chaired the meeting.

Coun. Wendy Cheropita was the fifth to step up.

Cheropita and O’Connor bolstered their bids to be on the committee by appealing to prior experience in selecting a chief administrator.

Both were part of the selection process for Cluckie when she was hired in 2020.

“I think I have a lot to offer,” Cheropita said.

Though O’Connor said it might help to have an odd number of councillors on the committee to prevent tie votes, Zvaniga was not too concerned by that potential outcome.

To ensure an effective interviewing process, the committee should be "relatively small," he said.

“The committee’s role is really to vet the process, to help define it, bring it down and bring some candidates to council, so all of council is making the final decision.” Zvaniga said.

Council took a short recess to vote via ballot for their preferred committee members and then returned to formally appoint the three winners.

The chief administrator is the only staffer who reports directly to council, which is why council has a say in who gets the job.

"The CAO is the only real employee responsible to council, so therefore hiring of a CAO is probably one of the most important things a council will do," Zalepa told The Lake Report.

He said the committee will hold public discussions on how the search will commence and the types of traits and qualifications council desires in the town's future head of staff.

Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report