OH: Gary Huff, City of Piqua, City Manager

Posted on May 7, 2014

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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.


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

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.

Strange Laws

  • 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


Connect: Blog, LinkedIn, and Twitter

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.

download (1)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


Connect: FacebookWorld Wide Web

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.

Notables from PiquaGIANT COZY_COUPE_27

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.


Lightning Round


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.

Three most influential books in your life.stinking

  • 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?

  • Jesus
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • George Washington
  • King David
  • Apostle Paul

Describe the inside of your car.

Clean and neat.

What’s the meaning of life?

images (2)

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.

images (1)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.

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

city_manager_funny_gift_coffee_mugs-r590f689185574fcd90c31f47ba45fc70_x7jpq_8byvr_324Our 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.

2030049_004HedgepethSchulerMentoring is such an important part of local government. Name three of your mentors

Roger Hedgepeth, Mayor of Blacksburg, Virginia

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?

What communities have you worked in your local government career?Fishers-in-town-hall

  • Wayne County, WV
  • Huntington, WV
  • Roanoke County, VA
  • Leesburg, VA
  • Blacksburg, VA
  • Fishers, IN
  • Piqua, OH

Supplemental Reading

50 Nifty Profiles

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