By Dan Yount
The Cincinnati Herald
Former Assistant City Manager Sheryl Long officially became Cincinnati 18th City Manager by an unanimous vote of City Council on Friday, following her appointment by Mayor Aftab Pureval.
“I couldn’t be prouder to welcome City Manager Long, with Council’s support, into her new role as Cincinnati’s top executive,” Mayor Pureval said. “In her years of public service, Sheryl has proven herself to be a gifted, compassionate and innovative leader. We have a lot of work ahead of us to grow Cincinnati and improve opportunity for our residents, and I’m confident that City Manager Long is the best person to execute on our vision in the years to come.”
Pureval described Long as a “talented young woman who took City government by storm.”
“I am honored for the privilege of being chosen as City Manager and the opportunity to continue to do great work for our Mayor and City Council,” Long 42, said. I thank my entire family for their love and support, as I embark on this new step with the City of Cincinnati. I want to thank the Mayor for his unwavering support and faith in my abilities. I thank City Council for their words of encouragement and for backing the Mayor’s decision to take this journey with me. I will work hard to ensure we accomplish the goals and execute the vision set for this City. I am proud to be the City’s youngest female City Manager and second Black female to fill this role. (Valerie Lemme was the first Black woman to serve in that position in Cincinnati.) It’s rare to have a woman rise to this level of influence in city government, and even more rare for it to be a woman of color. I am grateful to City staff for their tireless work, understanding and patience during this transition. I became the person I am today thanks to the relationships I’ve built here within the community. I love this City and promise to all Cincinnatians, we are here for you. This Administration is committed to serving you and moving Cincinnati forward.”
Council members were highly complimentary. Scotty Johnson said the “sky is the limit,” under Long. “Her dedication and energy” will be important going forward,” said Victoria Parks. Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon told Long’s teenage son, Albert Long, “We have your mother’s back. We are here to uplift her. We appreciate her.”
In Long’s first public appearance during a Freedom Fridays Zoom meeting September 2, she told host Iris Roley and others she “is genuine, honest, ready and willing to lead the City of Cincinnati. We – the staff, City Council and Mayor – are going to do some great things, but this will not happen overnight.”
Roley noted that as the second Black woman to hold the position and the added pressure of being mother, the public should not put any more burden on Long’s back than was placed on other city managers.
“I realize that I will have a part of the community that embraces me, and a part that won’t,” Long said. “However, I do have a mayor, a council and a village that support me. And I have been encouraged by the number of people, including members of the business community, that have reached out to me.
“However, I am my worst enemy, as I work to do no wrong. Black women across the country face being everything to everybody.’’
She noted there will be a tone of uncertainty among City employees, but she will work with staff members and also have conversations with employees. She added she has an open door approach to meeting with the public and employees as she experienced with other supervisors she has worked with.
Long said she will work to make sure she gets the best personnel to head city departments, including the hiring of a permanent police chief.
“This is a priority, since the longer we do not have permanent police chief, the longer we do not have the stability we need in that department,” she said.
Another priority, she said, how the City problem solves around the explosive development in Avondale so residents there will not be displaced.
“While there is a lot of work to be done, we already have the people activated to do that work,’’ Long said. “We will not make magic happen overnight, but we will make sure you hear from (about the progress we are making).”
Also, look for Long and her staff to turn negative situations into positive ones, she said, citing complaints about young men selling water at the busy Seymour Avenue and Reading Road intersection, which turned into a positive situation when the City brought business partners in to help the men become small business entrepreneurs at a safer location.
Being familiar with the Cincinnati Collaborative or police reforms, she said it is important for the community to understand the significance of of the reforms and of having a diverse police force. “I am sensitive of negative comments about collaborative, for (those critics) do not know significance of it.
Long moves into the city manager position with a a strong background in how the City of Cincinnati operates. She served as Assistant City Manager for the City of Cincinnati since April 7, 2019.
In this role she helped manage various City operations, utilities and regulatory departments. Her primary responsibilities include interfacing with the Departments of Public Services, Citizen Complaint Authority, Emergency Communications Center, Office of Environment and Sustainability, Transportation & Engineering, as well as the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, and Greater Cincinnati Water Works. She also served as liaison to the Cincinnati Health Department.
Long previously served as the City Administrator for the City of North College Hill for more than three years. She led North College Hill’s city communications prior to being promoted to City Administrator.
Long earned a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and a Master of Arts in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University.
Mollie Lair, City Deputy Director of Communications contributed two this report.