Former Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly is getting paid $140,000 to be the CAO of a county in Alberta.
Kelly arrived in Westlock County — located about an hour or so north of Edmonton — on Monday, says Bud Massey, the reeve of the county.
It has fewer than 8,000 people and is largely a farming and oil and gas area.
Kelly says the job presents a lot of unusual challenges because the government owns some facilities which most municipalities do not have, such as an airport and ski hill.
He said this is “not the norm for municipalities.”
The move will also mean Kelly is closer to family he has in Calgary. Kelly has a 37-year-old son whom he didn’t know about until a few years ago.
“It’s about a three and a half hour drive [to Calgary], so it’s closer than being on the other side of the country,” he said. “But as you know, I also have a couple other children, one in Ontario and one in Nova Scotia.”
Massey said the county did a Canada-wide search for a new CAO and Kelly was their choice.
“In the short amount of time that I’ve known Mr. Kelly, I’ve been quite impressed with his knowledge, his willingness to put in long hours, his frankness, his candour,” he said.
Kelly was first elected mayor of Halifax in 2000. He won two subsequent elections, but decided not to reoffer in 2012, citing personal reasons.
He was embroiled in a number of controversies near the end of his time as Halifax mayor, including the Halifax Common concert scandal and criticism over how he handled his role as executor of the estate of a Bedford woman.
Kelly calls these controversies learning experiences.
Massey says they asked Kelly about those scandals.
“He was questioned and gave very open and honest answers — or very open and I hope that they’re honest. … But if you’ve been in politics for that long, there’s a chance that some people are going to have concerns about the way you did or didn’t do something,” he said.
Like many new hires, Kelly is working in a six-month probationary period.
Best wishes to Peter Kelly as he takes on a new role in Alberta. Good Luck Peter.
— Office of the Mayor (@MikeSavageHFX) September 4, 2014