Panasiuk, Martens unsuccessful in Town of HP CAO applications

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The recently-released SAGE Report released by the Town of High Prairie has revealed that two current members of council have applied for the CAO position since 2018.

Mayor Brian Panasiuk applied in 2018 and Sacha Martens in 2022. Both were unsuccessful candidates.

On page 41 of the report it cites the following: “A May 7, 2022 9:48 a.m. email from Mayor High Prairie (Panasiuk) shows that Sacha Martens was a candidate for the CAO recruitment, and she was included in a May 17, 2022 interview list, along with other candidates.”

On June 14, Shari Poole was hired. It sparked a chain of events that resulted in council reversing its decision.

On page 42 of the report, Martens revealed Panasiuk also applied for the CAO position.

“The mayor (Panasiuk) stated that at least I was considered and made it to the final rounds,” wrote Martens in her respondent position.

“While his resume did not even get considered by the previous council. . .I felt as though the mayor held it against me that I was considered while he was not.”

On page 44, Panasiuk asked to respond.

“I did not apply for the CAO position in 2022. I had applied on the position earlier, around 2018,” he said in the report.

Current members of council alleged that Martens breached bylaw 09-2022 “by attempting to access candidate information” during the 2022 CAO recruitment process while she was a candidate.

“SAGE finds the evidence does not support the allegation,” wrote Shari-Anne Doolaege, president of SAGER Analytics Inc., in her report.

Members of council are eligible to apply in confidence jobs with the municipalities they are serving, including the CAO position, and do not have to resign or take a leave of absence during the process. Michael Francouer, assistant communications director, Alberta Municipal Affairs, emailed South Peace News June 25.

“Section 174 of the Municipal Government Act states that a councillor is disqualified from office if they become an employee of the municipality.”

Francouer stressed “become” in his email answer.

The rules are different for employees seeking office, however, he noted.

“Section 22 of the Local Authorities Election Act requires an employee to take a leave of absence to be considered eligible for nomination. The employee may notify their employer on or after July 1 in the year of a general election, or on or after the day the council passes a resolution to hold a byelection, but before the person’s last working day prior to nomination day, that the person is taking a leave of absence without pay.”

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