The arduous, five-month search for a new city manager is over. But, for the successful candidate, the hard work may just be starting.
The City of St. Albert announced bright and early on Tuesday morning that the newest city manager would be Patrick Draper, a transplant from Newmarket, Ont., with a gleaming record filled with both public and private sector experience.
Looking at his resumé, Draper looks like a godsend, a person whose expertise fits the problems St. Albert is facing like a glove.
But theory and practice are two very different things, and Draper may find it a tougher road to hoe than he may have first thought. Having staff members and councillors say there is the political will to make the tough changes necessary to achieve St. Albert’s economic goals is one thing; actually persuading them to put their money where their mouths are and see those changes through to completion is quite another.
Another area where Draper will have to be careful is in dealing with the public. The last city manager, Bill Holtby, became something of a lightning rod for angry residents, many of whom somehow came to the conclusion that he was pulling council’s strings and had to be let go. One hopes Draper has the demeanour and aplomb to avoid winding up in the same situation.
It should be noted as well that, in the five months between the firing of Holtby and Draper’s hiring, members of the City’s senior leadership team — Chris Jardine, Guy Boston and Jennifer Jennax among them — have filled in admirably, not letting any major issues slip through the cracks during the transition and even tackling a number of them head-on, like offsite levies and master plans.
But council has now put their faith in Draper to lead St. Albert into the future, and hopefully into an era of prosperity, economic growth and more balanced taxes.
It won’t be an easy task, though, and it won’t happen overnight. His every move will be also under the microscope.
We here at the Leader wish Draper the best of luck; he very well may need it.
— GLENN COOK, St. Albert Leader