Lantzville’s new top bureaucrat plans to bring calm to the district as he settles into his new role.
Chief administrative officer Brad McRae takes his position for the first time this week, arriving as new politicians are sworn in and council’s full powers are restored.
It’s the second town management position for the new CAO, who’s risen quickly in the world of municipal government. In four years, he climbed the corporate ladder from a senior bylaw officer at the City of Williams Lake to manager of bylaw services at City of North Vancouver and to top administrator at the District of Lillooet. He resigned to take the position in Lantzville.
It’s probably “one of the fastest rises in municipal government history,” said McRae, who credits his promotions to support and the knowledge of what he wanted to do and how he was going to get there.
Lantzville’s recent upheaval, including the resignation of four politicians and three senior managers isn’t a concern for McRae, who points out that every municipality has levels of turmoil, including Saanich and Nanaimo. His focus is on what’s gone right, what can be built upon and getting immersed in the community as quickly as possible to gain corporate knowledge lost with the exit of senior administrators. One of his first tasks will be filling the director of finance and community planner positions.
“My thoughts of this are, I’m here now. We’re hitting Day 1 on Monday. We have four new councillors that obviously put their names forward to make a positive change, we have three councillors who continue to stay and want to make positive change to Lantzville,” said McRae.
The new manager sees it as premature to say what he will bring to the district. The worst thing he can do is walk in after a lot of change has happened and make more changes, he said, adding the district now needs to reclaim its identity and trust in each other at a political and management level.
“We just need to find that inner calm before we decide how collectively we’re going to make changes,” he said. “My job is to learn this municipality and make good decisions and you can’t do that by walking in Day 1 without having the lay of the land, without having the background, without having the information you need to make before you move forward on giving recommendations.”
McRae, who moved to north Nanaimo with his wife and six-year-old daughter, did his undergraduate studies at the University of Victoria and has been trying to get back to the Island for a long time.
This isn’t a stepping stone, he said.
“For the first time, I feel like I’m home. My job is to make Lantzville the best Lantzville it can be.”