Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm White is just two days away from beginning his retirement.
The 63-year-old was in the CAO chair, to the left of Mayor Mathew Shoemaker Monday night, working a regular meeting of Sault Ste. Marie City Council for the last time.
“It’s been quite a career here,” said White. “I started Oct. 11, 1988 and just over a month later, Matt Shoemaker was born. If that isn’t a sign it’s time to move on I don’t think anything else would be.”
White’s first post with the City was as Recreation Supervisor for Sports and Special Events.
“The first event I ever worked with was Bon Soo, back in the day,” White recalled. “It’s kind of neat that we’re wearing Bon Soo buttons today to make the upcoming opening of this year’s winter carnival.”
White, who announced his plans to retire last May, spoke of the “wonderful staff, elected officials and volunteers” he’s worked with over his 35-year-career with the City.
He singled out the importance of volunteers to the City.
“It’s volunteers that really make our community go, that bring the quality of life in so many areas and address the challenges that we have,” said White. “It’s always important that we support all our volunteer components with whatever they do whether it’s sports, social services, or what have you.”
It would “take hours” to thank individuals, said White, but he did credit one in particular, the late Debbie Bourn, White’s first supervisor with the City. Bourn was Manager of Recreation and Culture.
“It was really through her guidance and support in my development that I was able to go from being a frontline supervisor in recreation to be blessed with the position I have today,” White told council. “I will always be thankful for her presence in my life.”
Through much of his career, noted White, the Sault worked through downturns in the economy. There were struggles, he said, to keep the City’s levels of service.
But he believes the City is entering an exciting period that he believes will be marked by growth.
“I’m really excited that instead of what happened in my generation where most people had to move away to find a job now we’ve got people moving into the community,”said White. “I’m really looking forward to being a citizen as part of the community and seeing what happens over the next five to seven years.”
White acknowledged incoming CAO Tom Vair, who officially takes the CAO reins Feb. 1. He also saluted city staff and thanked them for their support.
“I will miss the people I worked with but if I’m totally honest, I may not miss the meetings,” said White, with a smile.
Sault Mayor Matthew Shoemaker thanked White for years of dedicated service.
“While you may not miss the meetings, the meetings will miss you,” said the Mayor.
“You deserve your well-earned retirement and we hope that it is long as prosperous for you. (We) look forward to having you as a member of the community but please feel free to join the gallery anytime to watch the meetings, because there’s a seat there with your name on it.”