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Sheryl Long unanimously confirmed as Cincinnati City Manager

City of Cincinnati
Cincinnati City Manager Sheryl Long

Cincinnati Council voted unanimously Thursday to confirm Sheryl Long as the next city manager.

Mayor Aftab Pureval started a national search for a new manager when he took office in January. Twenty-one people applied for the job. Long was one of two finalists, along with Interim City Manager John Curp, who has been serving since January.

Pureval said Long embodies what Cincinnati is all about.

"She's had to work hard to get where she is," Pureval said. "She didn't have a wealthy family that was able to prop her up during challenging times. She had to face those challenges with her family, herself, and fight hard to be in this position."

Long says her top priority is to make local government more accessible to all residents. She's already part of an ongoing project with the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation focused on improving community engagement.

"Some people may not love the thought of having nine bosses, but if there's anyone up to the challenge it's definitely me," Long said. "My lived experiences makes me uniquely qualified to amplify the voices of Cincinnati residents from all walks of life. It was not easy for me to get to this point. My road to success was filled with bumps and setbacks. But I am proud that I was steadfast in my faith in myself to dream big and achieve them."

Sheryl Long is sworn in as Cincinnati City Manager on September 1, 2022.
City of Cincinnati
Sheryl Long is sworn in as Cincinnati City Manager on September 1, 2022.

All nine council members praised Long's work as Assistant City Manager, a job she's been in since April 2019.

"I'm just really proud of you," said Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney. "I think about all the little girls watching and seeing you here at the top. And it just makes me so proud and so happy that I can't help but just be really emotional about it."

"There's also a humanity that's there, when folks have challenging times in their past, in their life, and they meet them head on, right?" said Council Member Reggie Harris. "They take care of their responsibilities, and then rise to the occasion in the way that she has. That is what we look for in a leader: someone that has been able to say, 'Yes, I have been there and I have overcome and here's a roadmap for doing that.' "

"There is so much respect and admiration between the Council, the mayor, and our soon-to-be city manager, and I think that's incredibly important," said Council Member Liz Keating. "We are coming off of many years of a lot of turmoil and a lot of people are stressed out, they're working over capacity, we are short staffed — you name it, we've got that struggle right now. And people are excited to be able to come and work for [Long]."

About Sheryl Long

Long has been an Assistant City Manager since April 2019.

She previously worked as city administrator for North College Hill (2016 to 2019) and communications director for North College Hill (2013 to 2015). Before that, she spent about 10 years in sales and marketing.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in Black world studies from Miami University and a Master of Arts in marketing from Southern New Hampshire University.

She is a candidate for Credentialed Manager through the International City/County Management Association. Her new contract with the city says the city will pay for her ICMA membership and "other professional organizations, associated travel, and other such expenses related to the performance of her official duties."

About Long's contract

Long's salary will be $286,739 a year, about 5% more than Interim City Manager John Curp was making.

The mayor and Council will conduct an annual performance review and consider a salary increase on or before each anniversary date.

Long will be able to use a city vehicle on a 24-hour basis, "in recognition that the city manager will be required to respond to emergencies for the city from time to time."

The city's contribution to Long's retirement will be about $9,600 a year.

If terminated, Long will get 12 months' salary as severance. She is eligible for that severance if she resigns as a result of "adverse employment action" like "a vote of no confidence, reduction in pay, or failure to fund the Office of the City Manager."

Recent city manager contracts have included smaller severance promises; Paula Boggs Muething's contract included six months' salary, but she re-negotiated that payment to eight and a half months' salary, plus $2,500 reimbursement for attorney's fees to negotiate the severance.

Potential payout for Curp

Curp was Pureval's choice to serve as interim city manager when Paula Boggs Muething resigned earlier this year; he's been in the role since mid-January.

Curp was making $273,084 a year. His contract as interim city manager — approved by Council when he was confirmed — promises a big payout if he's not offered a senior-level management position paying at 75% of his current salary.

Only two jobs in the city make that much money right now: Interim Health Commissioner Grant Mussman ($230,623) and Medical Director Denise Saker ($206,576).

City Solicitor Andrew Garth was making $185,656 a year when he resigned last month. The two assistant city managers make $184,916 (Long) and $162,843 (Billy Weber).

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.