PORT HOOD: Joe O’Connor, the long-serving Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Municipality of Inverness County, attended his last council meeting on September 9.
“We all knew that this day would come,” said Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie who noted that as of October 1, O’Conner will officially be retired.
“What does this mean?” she said. “Well, to Joe it means walking on the beach with Bonnie [his wife], but don’t check on coastal erosion or size up the boardwalk while you’re out there, Joe. Just enjoy your walk.”
MacQuarrie noted the departure of O’Connor means something different to the county, as she defined the hunt for a new CAO as “an all-out effort to find someone who can have goals set, work with council, and keep a close eye on the budget.”
The warden said that conflict is inevitable, whether on council or the administrative side of the municipality, because everyone is passionate about doing their best for the county. However, she said, no one ever thought O’Conner wasn’t doing excellent work.
“Thank you for your long-term service, Joe,” she said, wishing him the best. It was a sentiment echoed by all council members.
Also attending the meeting were a number of administrative staff, who sat in the gallery.
First time councillor Laurie Cranton said that he and O’Conner had a great working relationship through the years, both before and after Cranton was elected to represent the people of Margaree and area.
“We worked together on a number of projects before I became councillor,” he said. “I never knew how big this job was before I got involved, and he was both an inspiration and a big help. I appreciate that your door was always open.”
All council members took a turn at complimenting the departing CAO.
“You’ve done a lot of work for people in my area,” said John MacLennan, councillor for Whycocomagh and area. “Duart MacAulay, former warden, also sends along his best.”
All told, O’Connor spent 42 years working for the Municipality of the County of Inverness. In 1975, he was taken on as the Director of Public Works. He held that position until 2009 when he was named CAO.
The municipality has appointed an interim CAO while looking to fill the position for the long term. Director of Finance for the county, Tanya Tibbo, will be sitting in the CAO’s chair for the forseeable future.