Nfld. & Labrador

Steve Kent on 'leave of absence' from job as Mount Pearl's top bureaucrat

Just under two years after taking the job, former politician Steve Kent is on a leave of absence from the top administrative post in Mount Pearl.

Mayor says it's 'business as usual' at city; Kent calls it personal matter

Steve Kent arrives at Coffee Matters on Commonwealth Avenue on Sept. 11, 2017, to formally announce that he was accepting the top civil servant job at Mount Pearl city hall. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Just under two years after taking the job, former politician Steve Kent is on a leave of absence from the top administrative post in Mount Pearl.

An email to Kent's work email address Wednesday morning generated an automatic reply with the message: "Hi, it's Steve. I am currently on a leave of absence."

A phone call to Kent's home phone also went unanswered.

Late Wednesday morning, he tweeted: "So I'm presently on leave from work in order to deal with a personal matter. Please know that I'm fine. And my family is great, despite the challenges that come with the transition from baseball season to hockey season and a new school year!"

Mayor Dave Aker declined to get into details of the situation when reached by CBC News Wednesday morning.

"Steve is on a leave and it's business as usual at the city," Aker said.

Steve and the team have done a great job for the city of Mount Pearl.- Mayor Dave Aker

Asked if the city put him on leave or if Kent requested leave, Aker said: "I can't comment any further."

In a follow-up interview Wednesday afternoon, Aker stressed that Kent has his full confidence: "He does, absolutely."

The mayor said the atmosphere in the city is "really good" right now.

"Steve and the team have done a great job for the city of Mount Pearl," Aker said.

Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker says he has full confidence in Steve Kent. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"We're growing. We're doing novel things. We've done a fantastic job under Steve's leadership with our marketing and our development activities, our economic development activities. It's onward and upward."

Kent was in attendance at a city council meeting late Tuesday afternoon, and accepted an economic development award. It was presented by Aker and veteran Coun. Lucy Stoyles.

When reached Wednesday morning, Stoyles said Kent was still the chief administrative officer, but would make no further comment.

Appointed to job 2 years ago

Kent took over as CAO on Oct. 10, 2017, at the age of 39, ending a long career in provincial and municipal politics. The job is a position that now carries an annual salary of more than $207,000.

It's the top staff position in the city of 23,000 and an annual budget of $54 million.

Kent was first elected to Mount Pearl city council at age 19, and went on to serve as deputy mayor and mayor before making the leap to provincial politics with the Progressive Conservatives.

He won a total of six municipal and provincial elections, and unsuccessfully sought the PC Party's leadership in 2014.

Kent also held several cabinet posts, including health and community services, and served as deputy premier in 2015.

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