Edmonton

Iveson praises Linda Cochrane's leadership after promotion to city manager

Linda Cochrane has been appointed city manager, Edmonton city council announced Wednesday morning.

'She has earned the complete trust of council,' Mayor Don Iveson says

Newly-hired city manager Linda Cochrane speaks with reporters at city hall on Wednesday. (CBC)

It was during September's Uber debates, when newly hired acting city manager Linda Cochrane managed to calm dozens of angry, shirtless taxi drivers in council chambers, that mayor Don Iveson knew she might be the right person for the job.

The "Cabbie Whisperer," as Iveson dubbed her Wednesday, will assume the role of city manager for the next three years.

"Just in the last six months she's so impressed us with her leadership," Iveson said. "I think every member of council is absolutely thrilled that Linda's agreed to stay on.

"Her calmness under pressure, her ability to try to bring people back to dialogue, those are incredibly valuable skills. I think it's a good illustration of her leadership style and her courage."

Iveson made the surprise announcement at a council meeting Wednesday morning. It was a unanimous decision to appoint her to the role, he said.

Cochrane has been serving as acting city manager since September, after Simon Farbrother was let go. She spent 10 years before that as the general manager of community services with the city. Iveson said she has earned the "complete trust of council" over the past six months.

She's not afraid to get in there if things need to be done, and she's fully committed to council's priorities.- Don Iveson

Cochrane's contract will run three years, with the possibility of extension. She will be in charge of 12,000 employees. She is the first female city manager in Edmonton.

She teared up as she thanked her family and colleagues for their support.

"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, very honoured and very humbled."

About 100 people from Canada and the United States applied for the position, Iveson said. Her compassionate yet persuasive nature and commitment to serving Edmontonians pushed her to the top of the candidate list, he said.

"There's no doubt that starting with council, and certainly many citizens, are looking for a reset at city hall after some challenges that we've had with major projects and the need to ensure, especially in this economic environment, that we're providing good value for money," Iveson said.

"She's not afraid to get in there if things need to be done, and she's fully committed to council's priorities."

Cochrane said she's looking forward to moving forward with Edmontonians in mind, and said she can't envision retiring anytime soon.

"I'm honoured … proud to be a woman city manager and proud to be the city manager, generally," she said. "I just want to be a dialogue facilitator, so the right things can be debated and the right conclusions can be arrived at.

"I want people in Edmonton to have a better life than if we weren't here doing what we do."

Linda Cochrane (centre) poses with city council after her appointment as city manager Wednesday. (Andrea Ross/CBC)

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