MIAMI — The stars lined up perfectly for new Miami city manager Bo Reese.
“It has certainly worked out amazingly timing-wise, my ability to retire from the state and this tremendous opportunity with the city just really popped up and really struck an interest,” Reese said. “Things just aligned. It was a real blessing.
Reese, who will begin work on Jan. 1, 2021, is retiring after 25 years in various posts with the State of Oklahoma, currently where he is Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
Tyler Cline will remain as interim city manager until Reese assumes his duties.
“We are so emotionally invested in Miami. I never miss an opportunity to brag on Miami and tell somebody I am from there. It’s really awesome,” he said.
Reese and his wife, Lori, are Miami High School graduates.
“This is something me and my wife have talked about for years,” Bo Reese said. “We just never thought if it was going to be in the cards.”
He is succeeding another native Miamian in the city manager position.
Dean Kruithof retired in July after having served in the position since 2014.
“The support of the staff and the city council has been great,” Bo Reese said. “Them really being willing to look at my skill-set and determine that I would be a good fit even though I didn’t have as much city manager experience as some of the other candidates.
“I appreciated them being willing to look outside the box and see my other skills that I bring and how we could augment those that I don’t have as a city manager with those that are there.”
He was chosen from an original field of 45 applicants and culminated a seven-month nationwide search.
During his tenure with the State of Oklahoma, Reese also has served as state Chief Information Officer (CIO) from 2014 to February 2020; Chief Operations Officer (COO) and Deputy Administrator, Employees Group Insurance Division (EGID) from 2010-2013; Chief Information Officer (CIO) of EGID from 2004 to 2010, and Director of Technology, EGID, from 2000 to 2004.
He was named an Outstanding Alumnus at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in 2015, representing the College of Human Environmental Sciences.
Reese studied computer science at NEO and received his associate’s degree in 1990. While at NEO, he was active in the Computer Science Club and served as Student Body Government Senator at Large and Sophomore Class Representative.
He served as the president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) in 2017-2018.
He has served on the 9-1-1 Management Authority Board, overseeing development and operation of emergency 9-1-1 systems within the state.
Among biggest challenges facing Reese once in comes on board will be steering a post-COVID recovery that has hit the city, state and nation hard.
“COVID definitely has been an interesting hurdle that most of us were not prepared for,” he said. “It has introduced a lot of new challenges. I think staying connected, working with our state health department and making sure that we are following guidelines — any guidance there — making sure that we are taking advantage of anything we can through the state” is important.
Reese was living in Miami at the time of the B.F. Goodrich plant closure in 1986.
“It was a tremendous gut-punch to Miami and I said ‘guys, we lost our spark’ at that time. We’ve got to find our spark because Miami has so much to be proud of. There is so much culture and history there, and opportunity, and such great people — we need to find out spark and really start trudging ahead. We need to do everything we can to bring in new industry. We need to focus on some economic growth. We need to bring in ‘new money,’” he said he told members of the search committee during the interview process.
“We need to bring in new dollars from new industry that are going to employ people with more job opportunity and really start increasing that revenue stream because we don’t have a whole lot of revenue stream.”
Tourism has been a big player in helping to increase the revenue stream.
“There is so much to do,” Reese said. “Miami has so much to be proud of, the sporting venues we have, the rodeo, things we do at the fairground like the tractor pulls. Those are great. We just need to take some lessons learned there and figure out how we can expand those opportunities, bring people in, find them things to come do and spend money.”
Flooding from Tar Creek remains a priority.
“We’ve got to address our flooding,” Reese said. “I have experienced that and I remember those days when we had the floods and the schools would let us boys out to go help. I remember then when we had all the pollution in Tar Creek. We had to go get tetanus shots because we were wading through Tar Creek water. When it would go down, it would stain our properties orange and it was such a health hazard.
“I remember how devastating that was. That is one of those challenges that we have got to figure out what our path forward is as a community. The city has been fighting the GRDA to what it feels is no avail. I can’t wait to get into that, get involved and learn what we have done. I think we’ve been sitting on opposite sides of the table arguing. I want to get down to how we are going to resolve that.”