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Region to begin CAO interviews this month

The Region of Durham will soon begin interviews to replace long-time CAO Garry Cubitt, who will be retiring later this year. (Image courtesy of the Region of Durham)

By Dave Flaherty/ The Oshawa Express

The search for Durham Region’s CAO is set to begin shortly.

In May, current CAO Garry Cubitt announced plans to retire later this year. No official date has determined.

He has served in the position of CAO for more than 25 years.

In June, regional council approved the creation of an ad hoc committee, comprised of regional chair and CEO Gerri Lynn O’ Connor and the mayors of Durham’s eight municipalities, to find his replacement.

Region communications manager Tania Laverty says interviews are tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29, and Friday, Sept. 14 if required.

“The region is currently working with the recruiting firm Odgers Berndtson to determine candidate eligibility. We hope to have a short list of candidates soon, for consideration by the ad hoc committee,” Laverty said in an e-mail.

The committee was originally slated to present its preferred candidate at the Sept. 12 meeting, regional council’s first after the summer break.

However, the resolution was later amended and that date removed.

The meetings are open to the public, but the interview portions will be done in private.

Whitby native Linda Gasser, a frequent delegate at regional council, voiced concern over the lack of meetings so far.

In a e-mail addressed to all regional councillors, Gasser questioned why a detailed job description for the CAO position isn’t on the region’s website. A general description was posted but later removed.

“It’s expected that a job description with more detail and specifics than a general description in the Municipal Act or what was posted on the Durham website would be available by now…,” she writes.

Gasser adds the public, “deserves to know the criteria used to evaluate applicants and who developed it.”

The council watcher also questions why the salary range for the position is not publicly listed.

Cubitt earned approximately $343,000 in 2017.

Regional council as a whole would usually select Cubitt’s replacement but is in a “lame duck” position because of this fall’s election.

Under provincial rules, councils in this position cannot appoint senior level staff.

At its June meeting, council chose to delegate that responsibility to the committee.

Clarington councillor Joe Neal was highly critical of the decision at the time, believing it should be made by council as a whole.

“Here’s the point. We’re talking about replacing Mr. Cubitt, who has led this organization for a very long time,” he said. “Everyone should be able to cast their vote. It’s one of the most important decisions we may make for the next four, eight and 12 years.”

In her e-mail, Gasser also criticized the use of the committee. She cites the fact O’ Connor, as well as Ajax Mayor Steve Parish and Scugog Mayor Tom Rowett, are not returning for the next term of council.