CINCINNATI — After a unanimous vote from city council on Thursday, Sheryl Long is officially Cincinnati’s new city manager.
She's Cincinnati’s youngest woman city manager and second black woman to hold the position.
"It feels amazing. We've got a lot of work to do. I have a great team to do it with and I'm just so honored to be chosen today,” Long said.
Mayor Aftab Pureval said she is the best person for the job, without a shadow of a doubt.
"I am so excited our city administration gets to be led by her and that I get to partner with her,” Pureval said. “Because together, there is nothing that we can't achieve for the city of Cincinnati."
Long has been serving as the city's assistant city manager since 2019.
Before Thursday's vote, city officials spoke very highly of Long's leadership and character.
"Her extraordinary talent, to her work ethic, to her track record of success... Maybe most importantly, how she treats people and how she makes people feel," Mayor Pureval said.
Council member Greg Landsman echoed Pureval’s sentiments.
"You are just very, very kind. A decent, caring human being that leaves people feeling better," he said.
Council also voted to approve Long's salary, which is $286,000 annually.
Long shared that it wasn’t easy for her to get to this point.
"My road to success was filled with bumps and setbacks,” she said. “But I am proud that I was steadfast in my faith and myself to dream big and achieve them."
One of the setbacks she was referring to — Long filed for bankruptcy in 2008. It was finalized in 2013.
Long addressed her previous financial struggles in a statement:
“Like many Cincinnatians, I have struggled financially in the past. Nearly 15 years ago, I filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As the sole provider for my family, we were forced to make difficult choices. I am proud to say we paid back and satisfied our debt per the terms of the bankruptcy. My story is not unlike what many people in our community experience. I have worked very hard to face these challenges head on, overcome them and now be in a position to help others. I am a resident of Clifton. I am a tax-paying Cincinnatian. I have answered every question asked by the mayor and city council and done so honestly. I am not ashamed of my personal experiences. My hardships have only strengthened my resolve to create an equitable and inclusive city for all our citizens.”
Now that Long has been approved, she'll start her new role immediately.
"It's amazing I don’t take it lightly,” Long said. “I do understand not everyone gets this opportunity, I will take it and make sure I do right by the citizens."
She takes over from John Curp, who had been serving as interim city manager since January.
He was the other finalist for the permanent position.
Despite the Mayor's confidence, not everyone is satisfied with how the choice was made.
“The city manager is the CEO of the city government,” said Jerry Newfarmer, a former city manager of Cincinnati. “The mayor and council are a board of directors, so they're hiring a professional, whose responsibility it will be to manage a very large and complex enterprise.”
Newfarmer has been critical of the city’s search.
“My concern has been that the mayor and council have not generated a genuinely competitive field for the position,” he said.
“I say this, by the way, not to disparage in any way the two internal candidates,” Newfarmer added. “They're fine people. I know them both. They're committed professionals. That's not my point.”
In a press conference, Mayor Pureval said the city hired a firm to conduct a national search for candidates.
“They held extensive conversations with each council member, a broad group of community leaders and advocates in addition to conducting surveys to get direct feedback and strategic direction from hundreds of residents and city employees,” Pureval said.
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