EDMONTON – After an international search for candidates, the City of Edmonton announced Wednesday Linda Cochrane will permanently take over the role as city manager.
Cochrane becomes the first woman to hold the role in Edmonton.
“It’s a very emotional day,” she said. “This is right up there for me as one of the most important things with my career that’s ever happened so I’m over the moon.”
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Cochrane started working for the City of Edmonton in 1982. She’s been the general manager of the Community Services branch since 2006. As acting manager, she looks forward to “helping people realize their potential as city employees and helping council make the best decisions they can.”
“I have a huge respect for the office of city council. I have a huge respect for the work that the corporate leadership team does,” she said. “I think I just want to be a dialogue facilitator so that the right things can be debated and the right conclusions can be arrived at.”
Cochrane was named acting city manager in September 2015 when former city manager Simon Farbrother was fired from the position.
Perhaps Cochrane’s most public moment in the last six months was in September when she jumped in to calm down dozens of local taxi drivers who staged an angry protest inside city council chambers.
“The cabbie whisperer incident was one of those moments where I think a number of us looked and said, ‘That might be the next city manager,’” Mayor Don Iveson said.
“If for no other reason that first, she was fearless to wade into the crowd and second, her calmness under pressure, her ability to be able to bring people back to dialogue – those are incredibly valuable skills.”
READ MORE: Acting city manager calms the crowd after Edmonton taxi drivers break out in angry protest at city hall
Beyond her ability to calm a crowd, Iveson said Cochrane has really impressed council over the past six months with her leadership skills.
“She is brilliant and she is persuasive and she’s compassionate. And the combination of all of those things is what makes her an excellent leader.”
Iveson said well over 100 formal applications were filed for the position from people across Canada and the United States. Cochrane is on a three-year contract with options to renew.
The former city manager was hired in 2010. Farbrother helped lead the city through the downtown arena deal and the closure of the City Centre Airport.
In September, Iveson said letting Farbrother go was not the result of any one project. However, city councillor Mike Nickel said he had lost confidence in Farbrother following the fall 2015 release of an audit report into the Metro LRT project.
Cochrane is on a three-year contract with options to renew. Her salary has not yet been released.
“I just got the best job in the world and I’m looking forward so much to working with all of you and working with our staff and working with council.”