Hamilton County may lose top leader

Posted at 6:15 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 11:06:59-05

CINCINNATI -- Hamilton County’s top boss could be headed out the door if he’s offered a new job in Virginia Beach.

Administrator Christian Sigman told the county board earlier this month he would interview for the city manager job in Virginia Beach, Virginia, County Commissioner Todd Portune confirmed Monday.

Virginia Beach media first reported that Sigman is one of two finalists for the job. The city’s deputy manager is the other finalist for the position.

Christian Sigman (Courtesy Hamilton County Administration)

Portune said it’s not uncommon for county administrators to last only a few years on the job so he wasn’t surprised to hear Sigman is interested in a new post.

“We all wish him well,” Portune said. “He’s effectively supported the board in management of the county’s finances in the most difficult climate since the Great Depression.”

Portune acknowledge that the board came close to firing Sigman earlier this year. He wouldn’t say if the board’s relationship with him has since recovered from the episode.

Commissioner Chris Monzel said he was aware that Sigman was looking at other opportunities and believes he would do well in the Virginia Beach job. 

"It's a positive for Virginia Beach," Monzel said. "He definitely brings a lot to the table from his experience of having been both at the city of Cincinnati and the county over the last 10 years." 

Sigman took over as the county leader in 2011, when Republicans took control of the three-member county board and fired the previous administrator.

It could be a year of change again for the county, which manages a $1.1 billion budget. Sigman might not be the only Hamilton County power player to exit his 138 E. Court Street office in the coming weeks.

Hamilton County Commission President Greg Hartmann will likely resign from his position at the start of 2016, sources involved with the Hamilton County Republican Party told WCPO late last week. Once Hartmann steps down from his job, county party leaders will select a new candidate to replace him. 

Colerain Twp. Trustee Dennis Deters, a Republican who’s running for the commission seat in 2016, will probably be the GOP’s pick to replace Hartmann early next year.

The move will boost Deters’ name recognition and give him experience on the board, which he’ll need if he wants to beat Denise Driehaus, a well-known Cincinnati Democrat who’s also running for the seat. Driehaus has gained political clout serving as a statehouse representative since 2009.

Hartmann did not return requests for comment. 

Sigman's salary as county administrator is currently set at $185,660.