The finalists are interim City Manager John Curp and Assistant City Manager Sheryl Long.
Curp has served as interim city manager since January 2022. He previously served as Cincinnati's solicitor, the city's top lawyer, from 2008 to 2014. He's worked as a lawyer for law firms in Ohio since 1995.
As a private lawyer, Curp represented former City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld in the Gang of Five texting scandal.
Long has worked as the assistant city manager for Cincinnati since 2019. Prior to that, she was city administrator for North College Hill, a Cincinnati suburb of 9,300 residents, from 2016 to 2019.
Twenty-one people from 12 states applied to be Cincinnati's next city manager.
Pureval interviewed five candidates before deciding the two best candidates already worked for the city. The other three were: Khalil A. Zaied, vice president for special projects for the Illinois consulting firm KCI Technologies; former Covington City Manager David Johnston; and Nichalos Gardner, the managing director of engineering and architecture for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
What does the city manager do for Cincinnati?
The city manager is basically the CEO of the city, overseeing 6,000 employees and 17 departments. The current interim city manager earns $273,000 a year.
Selecting a new manager is Pureval's biggest decision since he was elected in November. Whoever gets the job comes to it with a big decision of his or her own: who will be the city's next police chief. Chief Eliot Isaac retired from the city in February 2022. Curp selected Assistant Police Chief Teresa Theetge as interim police chief. The city manager will also deal with a city budget expected to have deficits since it will be the first during the COVID-19 pandemic without federal government aid.
"An understanding of the city's strengths and opportunities is critical to this job," Pureval said. "The candidate didn't necessarily have to be internal to have that understanding, but during the search, it was clear just how strong our internal candidates were."
Pureval is asking the nine council members to interview each city manager candidate one-on-one and offer him feedback.
He hopes to put forward one candidate at council's special Aug. 29 meeting for approval.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval: 2 in Cincinnati city manager search