Fifty Nifty Takeaways
What do we hope to learn from this series? We hope you will gain a better understanding of the unique characteristics of local government in each state, we hope you will learn that there are others like you who are motivated to make a difference through the public sector, and we hope you will learn that it is best to learn from others’ mistakes than yours.
ELGL on OHIO
We’re back in The Heart of It All State, also known as Ohio. Our first time around we met Jim Lenner, Johnstown village manager and ELGL board member. This time around we encounter Gary Huff, Piqua city manager. ELGL learned about Gary via Twitter. Gary is active “tweeter” with tweets covering a wide array of topics from Public Service Recognition Week to the latest public works project. Yet another reason that you should join the Twitterverse. Gary doesn’t stop at Twitter. He also maintains a community blog for Piqua.
— Gary A. Huff ICMA-CM (@GaryAHuff1) May 6, 2014
Before we hear more from Gary, here’s our Cliff Notes version about Ohio. Ohio is the 34th largest , the 7th most populous, and the 10th most densely populated of the 50 United States. The state’s capital and largest city is Columbus.
Ohio has sent seven of its native sons (Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding) to the White House. All seven were Republicans. Virginia native William Henry Harrison, a Whig, resided in Ohio. Ohio is the only state that has voted for the winning Presidential candidate in each election since 1964, and in 33 of the 37 held since the Civil War. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.
When it comes to pop culture, Ohio has brought us the “Mistake by the Lake”, WKRP in Cincinnati, John Glenn, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Rocks, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, popular singers from Ohio include Dean Martin, Doris Day, The Isley Brothers, Marilyn Manson, and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- Clinton County: Any person who leans against a public building will be subject to fines.
- Columbus: It is illegal for stores to sell corn flakes on Sunday.
- Marion: You cannot eat a doughnut and walk backwards on a city street.
- Paulding: A policeman may bite a dog to quiet him.
- Youngstown: You may not run out of gas.
Background Check on Gary
Gary A. Huff, ICMA-CM, became City Manager of Piqua on October 24, 2011 after having served as Town Manager of Fishers, Indiana, Town Manager of Blacksburg, Virginia, and Deputy Town Manager of Leesburg, Virginia. He also worked in Roanoke County, Virginia, Wayne County, West Virginia, and served in the United States Army.
He earned a Master’s Degree from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor’s Degree from Marshall University, along with attending Concord College.
During his tenure in Fishers, Blacksburg, and Leesburg, the communities earned numerous national, regional, state, and local recognitions and awards including Money Magazine’s #8 Best Places to Live, Forbes Magazine’s #1 Best Affordable Suburb, Business Week Magazine’s #1 Best Place to Raise Kids, and Outdoor Magazine’s Top Ten Dream Town. Other significant local government awards include the ICMA Center for Performance Measurement Certificate of Excellence, IACT Community Achievement Award, Virginia Environmental Excellence Award, IPMA Gold Medal Award, Digital Cities Grace Hooper Technology Award, NRPA Gold Medal Award, and the ICMA Voice of the People Award. The City of Piqua was recently named a 2013 Top Work Place and Healthiest Employer in the Dayton Region and was recognized by the Ohio City/County Management Association with the 2013 Citizen Participation Award.
Gary is an active member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and is a professional certified Credentialed Manager. He served as President of the Indiana Municipal Management Association (IMMA) from 2007 – 2009 and on the Executive Committee of the Virginia Local Government Management Association (VLGMA) and is now a member of the Ohio City/County Management Association. He has also been active in community organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Red Cross, Rotary, American Legion, Airport Authority, Alumni Association, and Arts Council.
Background Check on Piqua
Piqua (population: 20,522) was home to the first municipally-operated nuclear power plant, Piqua Nuclear Generating Station, in operation from 1962 to 1966 earning its short lived nickname “The Atomic City.”
The city of Piqua is the home of Hartzell Propeller, the leading producer of small aircraft propellers in the world. Evenflo of Piqua is the leading manufacturer of infant and toddler car seats and has become one of Piqua’s leading employers and industries.
The city also was a major center of underwear production during the late 19th century and much of the 20th century. A yearly Outdoor Underwear Festival was held downtown from 1988 until shortly after the demise and demolition of the factory owned by Medalist-Allen A, a direct descendant of the Atlas Underwear Company. Originally the festival had a serious historical focus, but in later years it attracted adventurous types from surrounding towns, and Piqua residents discouraged their own children from attending. Heritage Green Park now occupies the former Medalist factory site. Dav Pilkey‘s Captain Underpants is set in Piqua, Ohio. Piqua was chosen because an “Underwear Festival” was held there every year.
Helen Schelle – Founding partner of Fisher-Price, American toy manufacturer
Bill Lear – inventor and businessman, founder of Lear Jet and inventor of the 8-track cartridge.
Robert M. Widney – founding father of the University of Southern California.
Patrick Zircher – illustrator of Marvel and DC comic books.
Best piece of advice from your parents.
Good things happen to those that work hard and never give up.
In a dream world, which bands would headline your retirement party?
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Eagles.
(Complete the sentence) Before I die I want to…….
….Shoot a par 72 round of golf.
- The Bible
- Stinking Creek
- Good to Great
If you could FaceTime with five people (dead or alive and not including family members), who would be on the list?
- Abraham Lincoln
- George Washington
- King David
- Apostle Paul
Describe the inside of your car.
Clean and neat.
What’s the meaning of life?
God, family, friends, and golf.
Q & A
Give us three bullet points that best describe local government in your state.
- Many outstanding professional managers.
- Great networking between managers of cities.
- Creative leaders of the state.
We’ll assume you didn’t grow up dreaming about a career in local government. What was your dream job as a 12-year old? What was your first local government job? How did you end up in local government?
- To be a professional baseball player.
- Recreation Director in Wayne County, WV.
- That first job in Wayne County led me to pursue local government as a profession.
Give us your top three career accomplishments.
- Creating the Leesburg, Virginia Parks & Recreation Department and Park System.
- Award recognitions for the cities where I’ve worked and managed.
- Implementing citizen engagement and involvement programs.
We often learn from our mistakes. Name one or two career mistakes that you have made that you think we could learn from.
Learning that customer service is much more important than policy enforcement
Our experience has been many of our friends, family, and neighbors are not well versed in what it is we do in local government, many think we are a “planner” or “mayor”. Has this been your experience?
Yes. My father could never understand exactly what I did for a living. Having grown up in a rural area, he did not understand the concept or responsibilities of a local government manager.
How can local governments better communicate their role in the everyday lives of the community?
One of the great successes that I’ve experienced in communicating what local government does is through our Citizen Government Academy. This is truly an eye opener for those that participate.
Would you encourage your family and friends to consider a career in local government?
Yes. The local government profession is very rewarding in making the lives of the citizens in your community better.
Hypothetically, if we find ourselves interviewing for a job in front of you, talk about three steps we can take to make a good impression.
- Demonstrate a great attitude.
- Demonstrate enthusiasm and dedication.
- Demonstrate creativity and innovation.
Mentoring is such an important part of local government. Name three of your mentors
Wilts Salmons, High School Football Coach
John Anzivino, Former City/County Manager
(Complete the sentence) In 2018, local government will be …………
Better understood and appreciated.
What question(s) should we have asked you?
- Wayne County, WV
- Huntington, WV
- Roanoke County, VA
- Leesburg, VA
- Blacksburg, VA
- Fishers, IN
- Piqua, OH
- Piqua downtown development
- 2014 “State of the City” Presentation
- City of Piqua Strategic Plan: 2012-2016
- Free Tools for Citizen Engagement
- Town Manager Gary Huff retires
- Close-Up: Get to know Blacksburg Town Manager
- New Piqua city manager sees great potential
- Blacksburg Quiet as Tech Fans Rally in New Orleans
50 Nifty Profiles
- VA: Kim Payne, City of Lynchburg, City Manager
- NC: Tom Lundy, Catawba County, County Manager
- RI: Rich Kerbel, Town of North Kingstown, Former Town Manager
- KS: Jason Gage, City of Salina, City Manager
- KS: Michael Wilkes, City of Olathe, City Manager
- VA: Chris Morrill, City of Roanoke, City Manager
- MS: Parker Wiseman, City of Starkville, Mayor
- OH: Jim Lenner, Village of Johnstown, Village Manager
- SD: Robert W. Wilson, Minnehaha County, Assistant Commission Administrative Officer
- IL: Greg Stopka, Alliance for Innovation
- WI: Kevin Lahner, City of Burlington, City Administrator
- MO: Andy Morris, City of Moberly, City Manager
- WI: Andy Pederson, Village of Bayside, Village Manager
- AL: Sam Gaston, City of Mountain Brook, City Manager
- CO: Robb Kolstad, Management and Budget Director, City of Thornton
- OK: Larry Stevens, City of Edmond, City Manager
- FL: Lee Feldman, City of Fort Lauderdale, City Manager
- GA: Peggy Merriss, City of Decatur, City Manager
- MO: Jennifer Gray, City of Des Peres, Assistant City Administrator
- NE: Larry Burks, City of Bellevue, Assistant City Administrator
- TX: Amy Buckert, City of Balcones Heights, City Administrator
- NC: Eric Peterson, Town of Hillsborough, Town Manager
- MD: Laura Allen, Town of Berlin, Town Administrator
- IL: Randy Recklaus, Village of Clarendon Hills, Village Manager
- NC: Mitchell Silver, City of Raleigh and American Planning Association
- IL: Patrick Rollens, Village of Oak Park, Social Media and Communications
- KY: Laura Milam Ross, Kentucky League of Cities
- AZ: Gabriel L. Engeland, Town of Gilbert, Assistant to the Town Manager
- SD: Sean Pederson, City of Canton, City Manager
- MI: Clay Pearson, City of Novi, City Manager
- WA/UT: Jon Amundson, City of Richland, WA and City of Orem, UT
- CA, FL, OR: Douglas Ayres, Former City Manager of Inglewood (CA), Melbourne (FL), and Salem (OR)
- California: Brian Angus, Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Chief Executive Officer
- Washington/California: Julie Underwood, Shoreline City Manager
- NY: Jay Gsell, Genesee County, County Manager
- SC: Katherine Hendricks, City of Pickens Administrator
- CO: Tim Gagen, Breckenridge Town Manager
- UT: Rick Davis, West Jordan City Manager
- WA: Doug Schulze, Bainbridge Island City Manager and WCMA President
- IA: Geoff Fruin, City of Iowa City, Assistant to the City Manager
- CT: Roger Kemp, Former City Manager and Current President, Kemp Consulting
- AR: Jeff Dingman, Fort Smith Deputy City Administrator