The city's former deputy manager will be taking over from city manager Kent Kirkpatrick when he steps down in the coming months for health reasons.
Steve Kanellakos, who left Ottawa to take a position as the city manager in Vaughan, Ont., in the Greater Toronto Area a year ago, was unanimously appointed to the position by city council Monday.
'Coming home means something to me. This is my home.' - Steve Kanellakos
"My wife didn't move to Vaughan. My kids are still here. And quite frankly, you know, having a complete life includes your family and your friends," Kanellakos said at a press conference.
"Coming home means something to me. This is my home."
Begins May 2
Kanellakos has spent 30 years working in the municipal public service, starting with a position with the former Gloucester Police Department 1985.
He began working for the City of Ottawa in 2000 and as deputy manager for city operations was "responsible for the majority" of the municipal workforce, the city said in a statement.
His tenure in his new position will begin May 2, 2016, the city said.
Kanellakos said his first order of business would be to catch up with Mayor Jim Watson and the rest of city council on what's happened in his absence and what their major issues are.
One priority, he said, would be to fill senior management positions — including the two deputy city manager jobs.
"When you go to a different organization, you get an appreciation of what you left behind. I think it's beneficial for myself and it's going to be beneficial for the city administration that I did leave," he said.
"So I come back with fresh eyes, in terms of the organization."
Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, who worked under Kanellakos before being elected in 2014, called him a "fantastic boss" who was "well-respected" by municipal employees.
"I was happy to see that it was somebody that I trust, certainly, [somebody] that council knows well. We know what the working style will be. He understands the organization," McKenney said.
Kirkpatrick city manager since 2004
Kirkpatrick announced last September he would not be seeking a contract extension past March 2016 as balancing his multiple sclerosis and work had become increasingly difficult.
He has held the job of city manager — the top position in the city's workforce of more than 17,000 full-time equivalent employees, not counting the police service — since 2004.
During his tenure with the City of Ottawa, Kirkpatrick has shepherded such projects as the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park and the first phase of the city's light rail system.
In all, Kirkpatrick has spent more than 25 years working in the municipal public service, including four terms as a town councillor in Carleton Place.
'Best of both worlds'
Watson said the city held a national search to find Kirkpatrick's replacement before choosing Kanellakos.
Kanellakos represented "the best of both worlds," Watson said.
"He comes to the job not needing a great deal of training. He can hit the ground running. But he also, as he pointed out, has that perspective of another municipality, another regional government," Watson said.
Kirkpatrick had been scheduled to leave at the end of March but Watson said he asked him Monday to stay on an extra month to help with the transition.
"First and foremost is his health," Watson said. "And if he feels he can do it, then that would be great."