Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk has hired local photographer Chuck Swinden as her operations manager, filling a vacancy created in the spring when her chief of staff quit.
Swinden, who owns Rodenas Photography and Design with his wife, has been a common sight with the mayor over the years, shooting pictures of her at official functions. More recently, he's attended council meetings with her, leading to speculation he was now a staffer.
While he's best known as a professional photographer, Matichuk said Swinden has extensive experience as an operations manager.
“He's been an operations manager for about 20 years, having worked with several companies on logistics,” she said in an interview this week. “And that's one of the things that we need, somebody to handle the logistics in the office – the meeting setups and those types of things.
“He has also done management training and consulting in some municipal offices, as well as some provincial offices. And I'm pretty sure he did some in federal offices, as well.”
Swinden's profile on his photography website mentions doing photography training for government and corporations. And his profile on Linkedin says he was an operations manager for Fedex for seven years, an instructor at Cambrian's Enterprise Centre for a year, and a sales manager for Northern Voice and Data for a year.
Matichuk said having someone with whom she was comfortable was also an important factor.
“At this late date, you need to have somebody who has the experience of, a) working with me, and b) knowing what's going on in the mayor's office,” she said. “I looked at the position and realized I did not need a chief of staff. I needed someone who was loyal and who could fill the position, because we have a lot work to do for the next little while.”
The hiring went through the attrition policy, Matichuk said, and she concluded she needed someone until her term ends Nov. 30. But she still saw an opportunity to save money by hiring someone at a lower salary.
“It's at a substantial savings to taxpayers,” she said. “And we do that every time there's an opening. We review the position, look at it and see where we can find savings.”
She's has a budget for a four-person staff, and has consistently come in well under budget, Matichuk said, and 2014 will be no different.
“That's what we've been doing, shrinking the budget every time,” she said. “I think the next mayor, the next time, has an opportunity to go down to maybe three people … But right now there's a lot of work to be done, and I can't lower that (staffing level).”
There's a misconception out there that just because she isn't running for re-election, she isn't busy, Matichuk said. But she's determined to get the $125-million Maley Drive extension project off the ground before the end of her term, so she'll be working hard up until the last day.
“I've got to meet with the premier, I've got to meet with our federal partners to move that piece through before I leave,” she said. “Just because I announced that I wasn't running, doesn't mean the office doesn't run. In fact, right now I'm finding I'm busier than I ever was.”
The mayor's office has been without a chief of staff since Christine Hogarth tendered her resignation in May.