A change in leadership is coming at Merritt’s city hall, with Chief Administrative Officer Sean Smith vacating his role after six years with the city.
Smith was hired as Director of Corporate Services in 2017, working as a municipal lawyer in Victoria at the time. Holding a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Victoria, and an economics degree from the University of British Columbia, Smith was excited by the opportunity for both himself and his young family. In 2019, Smith was made deputy CAO, followed by his appointment to the CAO position itself in 2020.
The city announced Smith’s impending departure in a press release on Wednesday (April 19), noting that his last day as CAO would be July 7, 2023.
“I’ve been blown away by the creativity and dedication of this team,” said Smith in the release. “Together, we’ve tackled some tough challenges and celebrated some amazing successes. We’ve weathered storms (unfortunately, I mean this literally), found new solutions to old problems, and always managed to keep a smile on our faces, even when we were knee-deep in water or deskwork.”
During his time as CAO, Smith has been a part of some of Merritt’s most trying times, notably the flooding event of November 2021. Smith recalled long, 20 hour days working at city hall to get Merritt residents, including his wife and young children, back home.
“That was one of the most difficult weeks of my life, also most rewarding, and in some ways the most memorable, although there’s other things that I think I’ve blanked out entirely,” said Smith.
“What I saw was a bunch of people who really cared about trying to get people home as fast as possible. I was so pleased to see a lot of the training we’ve taken and implemented as a team put into action.”
Smith added that he was immensely proud of the team at city hall, both for their efforts during the flood, and for their commitment to Merrittonians as a whole. While some Merritt residents have expressed their concern with the city’s handling of the flood, Smith noted that the city always strived to take those concerns into account.
In addition to taking on a role in the private sector, Smith and his family will be taking on a new entrepreneurial venture, which he said will give him time to focus on what matters most – family.
Along with staff wishing Smith farewell, elected official have chimed in to give their thanks.
“We greatly appreciate Sean’s dedication to making a positive difference in our community and his continuous commitment to exceptional service,” said Mayor Mike Goetz, who was a councillor when Smith arrived in Merritt.
“His hard work during and after the flood has put the City of Merritt in a position that other communities can only dream about. His dedication, boundless knowledge, and enthusiasm sets him apart from all others. We have very much enjoyed working with Sean and he will be greatly missed.”
Council and staff will now begin the process of selecting an interim, and then replacement, Chief Administrative Officer. Smith’s advice for the next person behind the CAO’s desk?
“Come in and love these people, because they’re going to love you right back.”
Smith noted that he would like to thank city staff, council, the mayor, and the people of Merritt as a whole for his time in the city. He will stay on as CAO until July.
“Know that wherever I am, I will always be rooting for you and the City of Merritt,” added Smith.