Morinville town council has tapped Hinton’s CAO to become their new top executive.
Town council announced on Feb. 21 that it had appointed Stephane Labonne as its new chief administrative officer effective March 21.
Labonne is the current CAO for the Town of Hinton and was Sturgeon County’s general manager of integrated growth from 2015 to 2017.
Mayor Barry Turner said council picked Labonne after a months-long recruiting process that started just prior to the last election. They made the final pick earlier this month.
“He’s a guy who brings solid qualifications and solid experience. We’ve got someone who can walk in and do the job,” Turner said.
Turner said council picked Labonne because of his 22 years of local government experience, much of which was spent in Sturgeon County and the City of Edmonton. That regional knowledge will be valuable as the town deals with the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board.
Labonne is stepping in to replace current CAO Andy Isbister, who is retiring after about eight years with the town. Isbister steps down March 29, so he will have about 10 days in which to bring Labonne up to speed, Turner said.
Isbister has been a rock-solid member of Team Morinville for many years and brought wisdom and stability to council, Turner said.
“I can’t say enough about him,” he said, adding that Labonne would have “big shoes to fill.”
Isbister said he did not wish to comment on his upcoming retirement at this time.
Meet the new boss
Labonne said he got bit by the local government bug back when he spent a few years working with senior executives at the City of Prince George. Ever since, he’s trained and taken jobs with an eye on eventually becoming a community’s chief administrative officer.
“I love working in the public service. I love making a difference in people’s lives every day,” Labonne said, as well as working with others who are just as dedicated to their community.
Labonne said he decided to leave Hinton after less than a year for family reasons.
“My family lives in Sherwood Park, and I was commuting back and forth between Hinton and Sherwood Park,” he said, living in a rental five days out of a week and only seeing his family on weekends. Morinville was not only close to the capital region, which he missed, but was also well positioned for growth.
Labonne said he was excited to help Morinville implement its strategic plan, work with the Edmonton Metro Board, and build its new rec-centre.
Hinton is sad to see Labonne go after such a short time, but is making the best of the time it has left with him, said Hinton Mayor Marcel Michaels. He described Labonne as an elite CAO who had taught council much about policy and helped them create a new strategic plan and budget.
“I think Morinville has a great future with Stephane at their head,” he said.
Michaels said his council planned to discuss finding a replacement for Labonne at its next meeting.
Labonne said he steps down as Hinton’s CAO on March 16.