Residents of Alberton had the chance to meet the town’s new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Donna Thomson prior to the council meeting of Jan. 13.
Ms Thomson was first hired for the position on a temporary basis on June 27, 2019, following the resignation of former CAO Susan Wallace-Flynn. She officially became CAO in November 2019.
This isn’t Ms Thomson’s first time working for government. She spent 16 years working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in the IT department. She enjoyed the job, but didn’t like the travelling back and forth that came with it. When the opportunity arose for the position with the town, she went for it.
She said the job has been very interesting, and there’s a lot to learn.
“When you have someone that was in the position for so long, you have to figure out their filing system, you have to figure out how they did it, and what worked and what doesn’t work, and make the place your own,” she said. “You don’t realize how much is actually going on in the town until you’re actually in here. When you’re a resident, you don’t really see it, but there is quite a bit of development and quite a bit going on.”
Ms Thomson said it’s been a steep learning curve, but she’s picking it up pretty good. She noted that there’s going to be mistakes, but she works really closely with the town’s planner, and who submits everything and they go from there.
One thing about the being CAO is the responsibility that comes with the job.
“You take your direction from council, but council doesn’t really get involved with the day to day running of the place, so you have to get your invoices in, accounts receivable, accounts payable, you’ve got to do all that stuff,” she said. “You’re responsible for setting up all the meetings, getting all their documents and all that stuff out to them. I do it a little different than she did. I do agenda notes for them so they can track it better. Each items has its own page, and it’s big print, and clear, and everybody gets a copy of everything. I think it’s working, because our meetings are getting shorter, because everything just moves right along.”
Day to day life at the office is pretty steady. Ms Thomson said there’s always paperwork to be done, always people coming in to pay their sewer bills, always invoices to go out, bills to be paid to keep the town running, property development applications to research, and a lot more.
She said her favourite thing about the job would have to be the people.
“I like working with people, I like meeting new people,” Ms Thomson concluded. “We’ve got a really great council right now, everybody is pulling their weight. It’s good.”