MORE than two years after the City of Winnipeg’s last permanent chief administrative officer retired, the city has finally filled the role.
On Thursday, council voted 14-2 to appoint Michael Jack as the next top bureaucrat, effective today.
Mayor Brian Bowman said Jack was chosen for his "proven track record of innovative, collaborative and accountable leadership" since he joined the city in 2000.
"With over two decades of experience in senior leadership positions with the Winnipeg public service, Michael has built positive, trusting work relationships."
The city’s last permanent CAO, Doug McNeil, retired in May 2019.
Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) said she supports Jack’s appointment, but deems it embarrassing the city took so long to hire him.
"The whole process was… shameful and an embarrassment that it took so long to get leadership in for a staff of over 10,000 people," said Lukes.
Bowman noted the hiring process was delayed as council prepared its first multi-year budget and coped with the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also "paused" for months over diversity concerns; the city said its first recruitment consultant offered an all-male shortlist of contenders.
Bowman said the final round of candidates was more appropriate.
"Ultimately, we felt that the most qualified and the best person for the job was Mike Jack but we had that diverse pool we were looking for," he said.
The mayor also stressed interim CAO Mike Ruta provided "exemplary" leadership during the hiring process.
Jack was working in a senior city role under a past council when some controversial projects came forward, including the infamous fire hall land swap and police headquarters construction projects. The new CAO said his experience coping with the aftermath of those projects has positioned him well to avoid future problems.
"You are… getting someone who has the benefit of having seen all of that and knows how to avoid any of those pitfalls should they present themselves on any future files, in any future initiatives," said Jack.
Jack, who had been serving as deputy chief administrative officer, will take over the role from interim CAO Mike Ruta. Ruta will retire.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.