Thursday , 23 September 2021
Mayor Gene Sobolewski during a press conference in March regarding COVID-19.

Sobolewski hired as Smoky Lake County CAO

The new job will not affect his current Mayor role, he says.

The Mayor of Bonnyville has been hired by a nearby municipality to run their administrative staff.

Smoky Lake County announced on Friday that Gene Sobolewski is appointed as the municipality’s chief administrative officer (CAO).

Sobolewski has worked as a consultant for the County since 2011 through his day-to-day engineering job. Elected in 2004, he has been mayor since 2013 with one year remaining before the next municipal election.

“I was working at the County for the last 10 years through my regular employer [Associated Engineering] and in the last three years, I was basically at an elevated position where I was providing management assistance,” he said.

“And with the unfortunate passing of their CAO, in the summer, and just the way events unfolded, it was an opportunity that was presented to me that I couldn’t turn down.”

The CAO’s job is to ensure resolutions and bylaws made by the elected council are carried out efficiently and effectively.

When asked if he was intending to continue his duties as Mayor of Bonnyville, Sobolewski said it will be no different than before.

He’s worked in communities farther away, he said, and doesn’t see a cause for concern from residents.

“[It’s] no different than working full time out there in Smoky Lake. It’s the same commute. It’s no different since I was elected in 2003, I’ve been working all over Alberta, and I’ve been able to execute the duties of the counselor as a mayor. So there’s no difference that way. There is no difference.”

Lakeland Connect reached out to Municipal Affairs who were unable to respond by press time on the dual role’s permissibility under the MGA.

Sobolewski has worked as a senior project manager specializing in municipal infrastructure, regional water systems, sewer systems, roads and bridges for a couple of decades and said he’s looking forward to the job.

“It’s an incredible position. I hit the ground running yesterday [last Thursday]. It’s my forte. I’ve been involved in this all my life, well my working career.

“We’re planning on being in the community for a little while yet. So I still will be the mayor. And we’ll see how the position pans out and take it from there,” he said.

Sobolewski fills in for outgoing CAO Cory Ollikka who passed away suddenly this summer.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.