After searching for eight months, town council has hired a new chief administration officer for the Town of Ponoka.
The announcement came Tuesday, Sept. 23 at the Town Hall by Mayor Rick Bonnett, who welcomed Rachel Kunz as the new town manager. He said councillors had an exhaustive search to find the right person for the job. “It took a long time to come to this,” he said.
Councillors initially approved hiring Kunz after an in-camera session during their regular meeting Monday, Sept. 22 with the announcement coming the following day.
Bonnett said he was confident in Kunz’s skills and abilities as the town manager.
“She had exactly what we were looking for…she is the person that can take us to the next level,” said Bonnett.
Councillors took a different approach when looking at candidates, searching for someone outside of Alberta who they thought could provide a different perspective. It came down to three potential candidates.
“We want some different flare to it and we found that in Rachel. She was the one candidate that all seven of us wanted to interview,” Bonnett added.
New CAO ready to settle in
Kunz has a degree in mining from the University of Montreal and a certificate in local government administration from the University of Regina and was the CAO for the Rural Municipality of Sherwood for some years, which includes the City of Regina. She says Ponoka is on the verge of some exciting changes and she looks forward to the challenges ahead and moving here for the long term.
“The location is perfect. It has a lot to offer and I think it’ll be a very nice location to relocate my family,” said Kunz.
She suggests there are great opportunities in residential, commercial and industrial growth and Kunz is eager to tackle those challenges. Being an elected councillor in Anaheim, Sask. for one term gives Kunz an understanding of challenges town councillors face.
A brief look at her background shows Kunz worked in mining for about 10 years in British Columbia, Newfoundland and in Bolivia for some time. After leaving the industry, Kunz moved to Saskatchewan as a berry farmer for approximately 10 years.
“I decided I wanted to get involved in local politics,” she explained.
Her experience as a councillor was invaluable in understanding communication between administration and council. She feels councillors must be kept up-to-date at all times.
“The responsibility of council is to make the right decisions and the CAO’s is to make sure that decision is done right,” said Kunz.
Communication must occur between residents and stakeholders as well. Kunz says that while keeping council aware of events is important, so is ensuring the town keeps its residents in the loop.
“I will undertake to make sure that communication is what it should be,” she added.
Kunz said she hopes to have a strong handle of Ponoka by the New Year and she expects to be fully moved by Christmas.
“We see Rachel as a breath of fresh air with some different ideas,” Bonnett concluded.