The town of Princeton’s new Chief Administrative Officer believes in being available to the public.
“My door is always open. Just don’t bring a shot gun,” she said in an interview with The Spotlight Monday, her first day on the job.
Cheryl Martens, 49, was recalling a time when as a Rural Municipal Administrator in Saskatchewan she was faced by a gun toting resident who didn’t want to pay his taxes.
When the disgruntled man left her office she phoned the RCMP – and he eventually paid his bill.
So far Martens’ experiences in Princeton have been much more welcoming.
“Everyone I’ve met has been very friendly.”
Martens come to the position – left vacant in December by the sudden departure of Rick Zerr, and filled temporarily by consultant Bob Wilson – with 19 years experience in municipal administration.
There were 38 applicants for the position, according to Wilson.
Mayor Frank Armitage said Martens is a good fit for the job.
“I like her approach…We are very pleased she has accepted the position. She comes with a great deal of experience in this field and we look forward to working with her.”
Martens holds a BA in history, and became interested in government when she took on a job in the archives at the City of Moose Jaw.
“It was only supposed to be for a month, and I never left,” said Martens.
Martens eventually worked in numerous city departments including finance, assessment, taxation, utilities, and the court solicitor’s office. She also acted as a community support liaison and council advisor.
She then spent several years as an RMA, working in agricultural areas with small offices and handling every administration task hands on.
In addition to payroll, budgeting, human resources and taxation those jobs also included picking up snakes, and mouse and rat control.
When Martens and her husband Jim decided to move to BC the couple landed in McBride where she was CAO for six months.
While the position suited Martens, there were limited job options for her husband, who is a journeyman carpenter and currently the capital construction project manager for the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
A key requirement for any CAO position is “good people skills,” she said. “Good people skills, communication skills and sometimes you have to think outside of the box.”
Meeting with the public and helping to solve problems is a big part of the responsibility.
Martens said she wants to hear “concerns, and even some ideas of what you would like to see in town, that’s good too… I love working with people and I love being part of a community. I love the interaction.”
Martens is already tackling the day to day duties of CAO.
“You have to kind of jump into what the projects are…You have to be solid on legislation as well as the policies and procedures that govern our town.”
Martens said she hopes to become involved in local groups as time allows and expects to take up kayaking this summer.
“I love nature. I’m looking forward to checking out the lakes here and your trails.”
Martens will initially work a probation period of six months.
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