Council is unanimous: Harry Black is Cincinnati's next city manager

Aug 6, 2014

Harry Black
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Harry Black, Baltimore’s finance director for the past two-and-a-half years, will take over as Cincinnati city manager on Sept. 8.

This afternoon, Cincinnati City Council confirmed Mayor John Cranley’s choice by an 8-0 vote. One council member, Christopher Smitherman, was out of town but had previously expressed support for the 51-year-old Black.

The vote came the day after a two-and-a-half hour session where council members questioned the Baltimore native, who was chosen by Cranley from 19 candidates.

For Black, who has also worked in city government in Richmond, Va., and the District of Columbia, it will be his first job as a city manager.

He thanked Cranley and council members after the vote, and pledged to make sure they don’t regret it.

“I appreciate that initial vote of confidence,’’ Black said. “Obviously, now I’ve got to begin the process of truly earning it.”

Black, who is married with two children, said he has been working toward such a job all of his professional life.

“This is the culmination of many, many years of preparation, experience, observation and learning,’’ Black said.

Council member Chris Seelbach was the only council member who expressed reservations about Black, saying he was “51 percent” convinced that he would be a good choice.

Seelbach said he wanted to hear more details about Black’s long-range goals and visions for the city.

“I am concerned about your views beyond the delivery of basic services,’’ Seelbach said.

But, in the end, Seelbach voted to hire Black.

Council member Wendell Young said he was an enthusiastic supporter from his initial meeting with him. And he said council will have to work collaboratively with Black.

“Mr. Black can only be as successful as this council allows him to be,’’ Young said.

Council member Yvette Simpson, before the vote, told Black that she wants to see “big ideas, big visions to take Cincinnati to the next level.”

Cranley said last week that the choice for him was narrowed down to Black and Scott Stiles, who has served as interim city manager since Milton Dohoney resigned after the election of Cranley as mayor last fall.

The mayor said then that he wanted “a fresh set of eyes” looking at the city administration and the delivery of city services.

Black will be the 15th city manager since Cincinnati adopted the city manager form of government in 1926. He will be paid nearly $245,000 a year.