The Town of Golden has found their new Chief Administrative Officer in a familiar face.
After unanimously voting in a closed meeting, council offered the position to Jon Wilsgard, who was in the position of manager of corporate services for the Town for the past six years.
“It was a surprise. I thought there would be a recruitment process, and that perhaps I would apply,” said Wilsgard. “I was surprised, I really wasn’t expecting that. It’s a real honour.”
After a long career in government including BC Parks, the Forest Service, and Golden Area Initiatives, Wilsgard finally feels like he is ready for the major responsibility of the CAO position. But he is still moving forward cautiously.
“I have an arrangement with council that I can return to my former position within the next little while, depending on how things go… In fairness to council, I want to make sure I can do this job,” he said.
The Town is facing some challenges moving forward, and Wilsgard would like to take some time with council to evaluate the municipal government’s role in the community.
“One of my focuses with council is going to be really looking meaningfully at what the municipality’s role is. What is it that we do? We are a municipal government that is all over the place, we do tons of different things. And many of the things we do are things that other local governments wouldn’t dream of doing, it’s too much,” he said.
“Right now we’re facing a personnel deficit. We just lost our bylaw officer, and Mag de Grace, our wonderful planning assistant, has just resigned. Taking this job, I am balancing this position with my former job, so there’s a deficit there.”
After less than a week into the new position, Wilsgard is a little nervous about the road ahead of him, but is grateful for both the vote of confidence he has received from council, and the example his predecessors have set for him.
“It’s always good to have predecessors there that you can work from… It’s wonderful when you can work well with someone, and watch what they do. Both David Allen and Phil Taylor were excellent at helping me gain the confidence that I have now,” he said.
And it is the people who he works with, and works for, that make the job worth doing. A public servant at heart, Wilsgard is happiest in a position where he can serve the community. And part of serving the community means having an open line of communication with the municipality.
“I thrive on being able to be someone meaningful in a small community, where I can help as many people as possible. That’s the most important thing for me,” said Wilsgard, adding that having a good staff around him is a key component to that.
“There’s some things I am definitely not good at, and that’s why you have good staff around you.”
Wilsgard is also grateful to have a strong Mayor and council to work with, who have raised the bar as far as public engagement goes.
“Christina (Benty) is inarguably the most engaged mayor of a small community in this province. She does the position honour,” he said.
“Our council is diverse, and stunningly engaged in many things that you wouldn’t think of… It’s a pretty cool, diverse group of officials that I work for.”