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Longtime city clerk retiring, permanent city manager announced

Photo: Ottawa City Hall

There are two high-profile changes in the ranks at Ottawa city hall.

On Monday, interim City Manager Wendy Stephanson announced the upcoming retirement of Rick O’Connor, on Sept. 1. O’Connor has been with the City of Ottawa for nearly 35 years, most recently as the city clerk. Until a permanent replacement can be found, the role of city clerk will be filled by David White, the city solicitor. (Interestingly, O’Connor used to be both the clerk and solicitor, before those roles were separated some years ago.) The full memo announcing O’Connor’s retirement is below.

The other change is that Stephanson was appointed to a five-year term as city manager, after acting in that capacity since November. Her official bio is available at ottawa.ca.

(Below is the memo to city council announcing O’Connor’s retirement)

The purpose of this memo is to inform you that Rick O’Connor, City Clerk, will be retiring from the City of Ottawa effective September 1, 2023. Rick has dedicated close to 35 years of municipal public service to the City of Ottawa. During his tenure, he has served as City Clerk, and previously as City Clerk and Solicitor, City Solicitor and Deputy City Clerk in the post-amalgamated organization. In these senior leadership roles, Rick championed transparent, accountable and open government initiatives, such as Council’s Accountability Framework, which included the Lobbyist Registry, the Employee Code of Conduct and the routine and pro-active disclosure policies. Rick also served as the City’s Chief Electoral Officer during the last four Terms of Council, where he was responsible for all Ottawa municipal and school board elections from 2010 to 2022. In this role, Rick and his team did an exceptional job leading the transition of outgoing Councillors, the orientation of incoming Members of Council, as well as Council’s adoption of its new governance tools, such as the Procedure By-law and the committee structures. Rick will be missed by the Office of the City Clerk team for his commitment to servant leadership, coaching his people and championing the importance of relationship building, not only within his team, but across the organization. As a member of the senior leadership team, Rick’s exceptional leadership, ability to provide sound advice, and in-depth understanding of municipal government are qualities that have made him such a valuable colleague and mentor.  It should be noted that Rick’s contributions extend beyond the City. Rick has been active in the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) for decades, winning the AMCTO Prestige Award in 2006 for outstanding individual contributions to the municipal sector at large. Widely regarded as an expert in municipal conflict of interest, Rick served as a panelist in the Good Government portion of the Bellamy Inquiry, drawing on his past experiences serving on the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s Conflict of Interest Task Force, and the Provincial-Local Government Working Group’s “Report on Open Local Government,” among others. Please join me in thanking Rick for his dedication to the City of Ottawa, for his contributions to open government in the province, and congratulating him as he prepares for this next chapter. I am pleased to announce that David White, City Solicitor, will serve as Interim City Clerk effective September 1. David is a seasoned leader with 29 years of service at the City. He is currently a member of the senior leadership team and will continue to serve in his current role as City Solicitor in addition to Interim City Clerk. An executive recruitment process for the City Clerk position will be launched and an update will be provided to Council. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.


Wendy Stephanson

Interim City Manager