Huey P. Long, a 38-year veteran of public service, has agreed to take the helm at the City of Miami.
Mayor Brent Brassfield extended an invitation to Long shortly after members of the city council and the city's utility board unanimously agreed to extend an offer to its top city manager candidate.
Long said Friday that he and his wife, Tari, are excited to return to their native state. The couple currently resides in Safford, Ariz., where Long serves as city manager.
“We absolutely love the state of Oklahoma,” Long said. “This is a ‘coming home' for both of us and we couldn't be more pleased.”
Scott Trussler, a member of the city council and the screening committee that reviewed the applications of 51 candidates who sought the management position, made the motion Friday to extend an offer to Long.
In a post-meeting interview, Trussler said his decision to support Long was driven not only by the candidate's years of experience, but his “passion for the job … qualities of leadership … and history of innovative ideas.”
Brassfield said the city would be served well by any of the final three candidates who were considered on Friday, but it was Long's track record that set him apart.
“All three have the ability to be successful in Miami,” Brassfield said. “It really came down to experience … Huey P. Long has 38 years of experience in varying degrees of municipal work.”
Councilman Terry Atkinson echoed Brassfield's words, adding that he is impressed by Long's three-time appointment as city manager in Mustang.
“For a man to be re-hired three times in a community as city manager speaks highly of his ability,” Atkinson said.
The new city manager will be paid $105,000 annually. The details of his full benefit package are not yet firm.
Long is a second-generation public administrator. He served as city manager of Spencer, Coalgate, Del City, Moore, Mustang, Oklahoma and county administrator of La Paz County, Arizona.
At the age of 21, Long was acknowledged as the youngest public administrator in the United States.
He continued to serve the public through various administrative positions in Oklahoma City, Sapulpa and Broken Arrow.
Long said he was “very much impressed” by the people of Miami and the community's ability to rise above an unprecedented year of disaster.
“‘People' is what a community is all about,” Long said. “I was treated with great respect and the hospitality was overwhelming … I met with many people who are excited about their community and the direction it is going - while at the same time they recognize the significant challenges it faces.”
Long said the community's ability to develop a strategy for finding new direction and diversification after the closure of the B.F. Goodrich plant speaks well of its fortitude.
“Miami as a community that is pulling itself up from overwhelming trials and continues to march forward,” Long said. “That is how I see us - as a community moving forward.”
Noting the city's propensity to flooding and the challenges that are ahead in local, state and federal arenas, Long said he stands “ready, willing and able” to serve at the will of the mayor and council.
However, it is the need to improve infrastructure that has Long's immediate attention.
“I have many ideas,” Long said. “But, there will be a lot of people with good ideas to bring to the table. There are many discussions to be had as we develop a clearly defined strategy.”
The future of Miami's growth, economic development and jobs must be built on a foundation of good infrastructure.
“Every community in the country is faced with the same problem,” Long said. “I have not had an opportunity to look at the depth of Miami's infrastructure, but I venture to say it is something we will be targeting.”
The Longs expect to make their home in Miami and Huey Long plans to be at work prior to Sept. 1.