CINCINNATI — Just hours after announcing the resignation of Cincinnati’s current city manager, Mayor-elect Aftab Pureval has named her (at least) temporary replacement.

What You Need To Know

  • Paula Boggs Muething is expected to step down as Cincinnati's city manager on Jan. 19

  • Former City Solicitor John Curp will replace Boggs Muething as interim city manager

  • A city manager is the chief administrative officer for the city and oversee the day-to-day operations of the city

  • Mayor-elect Aftab Pureval said he plans to conduct a national search for the next city manager

Pureval, who will be sworn in Tuesday, Jan. 4, announced at 1 p.m. that John Curp will serve as interim city manager when Paula Boggs Muething steps down from the position on Jan. 19.

Like Boggs Muething, Curp is a former city solicitor for the city of Cincinnati. From 2008 to 2014, Curp served as chief legal officer and head prosecutor for the city.

In a bit of irony, Boggs Muething actually replaced Curp as city solicitor in 2014.

Curp has also worked as a lawyer in private practice. He was a partner with the prestigious Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, specializing in real estate and economic development before his tenure in city service. He’s currently a partner at Blank Rome law firm serving clients on business, litigation and environmental matters before all levels of government.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, appointed Curp to the Ohio Public Defender Commission, which oversees the provision of indigent criminal defense required by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Pureval called Curp a “smart, effective, and proven government executive. He cited Curp’s history of helping to get major projects “across the finish line.” He specifically mentioned The Banks, Washington Park and Music Hall as well other “transformational projects.”

“(Curp) has the leadership skills to bring innovation and collaboration to the City of Cincinnati,” Pureval said. “He has years of experience advising the City’s departments, boards, and commissions. I’m excited for his leadership to help execute the bold vision that the incoming City Council and I share.”

“It’s an honor to be appointed by Mayor-elect Aftab and I’m eager to work with him and our elected City Council Members to align the administration’s strategic priorities with Council's legislative goals. Cincinnati has both significant challenges and real promise ahead,” Curp said. “Each and every member of our city workforce is a leader in our COVID-19 response and restoring public trust in government. I am fully committed to the Mayor’s agenda of improving public safety, prioritizing climate action, expanding affordable housing, and growing Cincinnati’s economy equitably.”

The news about Curp came almost exactly five hours after Pureval announced Boggs Muething intended to resign and his plans to conduct a national search to find her replacement.

A city manager is an appointed municipal official who carries out the administrative and executive duties of a city government. In some municipalities, the position is also known as a chief administrative officer. They oversee the day-to-day operations of the city, hire leadership for various departments and author the city's proposed budget every year.

In Cincinnati, only the mayor can initiate the process of hiring or firing a permanent city manager. A vote by City Council is required to execute those actions, however.

While on the campaign trail, Pureval made it clear that he intended to evaluate the status of the city manager position once he took office. He never commented on Boggs Muething’s future, only ever complimenting her on her performance in the role given the circumstances she faced.

“Throughout the campaign I promised Cincinnati that I would engage in a national search to select a City Manager. Upon taking office, I intend to immediately make good on that commitment," Pureval said. It's unclear how long that process could take and if Curp would be in the running for the permanent position. A staff person for Pureval's transition did not respond to a request for comment on that possibility.

Members of his transition team, including co-chairs Stephanie Jones and Michael Fisher, said the move to bring in Curp reflects the mayor-elect’s desire to hit the ground running when he takes office next week.

“Mayor-elect Aftab has laid out a bold and clear vision for the future of Cincinnati and he will require a partnership with an experienced government executive as Interim City Manager. With this appointment he has taken immediate action and is prepared to lead on day one,” Jones said.

Fisher, who recently retired as CEO of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said Pureval still plans to conduct a national search.

“Cincinnati is in a competitive employment market with the private sector and other cities across the country. A national search will attract outstanding candidates as Cincinnati’s future is bright,” Fisher said.

City Manager Paula Boggs Muething speaks at city press conference on COVID-19. She's flanked by Mayor-elect Aftab Pureval (left) and Mayor John Cranley. (Spectrum News/Casey Weldon)
City Manager Paula Boggs Muething speaks at city press conference on COVID-19. She's flanked by Mayor-elect Aftab Pureval (left) and Mayor John Cranley. (Spectrum News/Casey Weldon)

The new city Cincinnati City Council — which has six new members — will meet Jan. 5 to vote on Curp as interim city manager. They will also vote on a severance package for Boggs Muething, according to Pureval.

Pureval and the new City Council will have just been sworn into office a day earlier.

Even with a temporary replacement already lined up, the timeline currently remains the same – Boggs Muething will step down Wednesday, Jan 19 and Curp will take over at that time. City council meetings typically take place on Wednesday afternoons. 

Pureval said Boggs Muething has "committed to ensuring a smooth transition to an interim manager."

Pureval won election in November to replace term-limited Mayor John Cranley, who appointed Boggs Muething — an accomplished attorney and close friend to Cranley — to the position on an interim basis in July 2020. Council voted to make her the permanent city manager in October of that same year.

The new mayor credited Boggs Muething for helping to lead the city through "one of the most challenging times ever faced by Cincinnatians." He cited the COVID-19 pandemic, the arrest and dismissal of three elected City Council members and general "uncertainty" at City Hall.

"During her tenure as City Manager, (Boggs Muething) has ensured the continuity of city services and the safety of city employees when people across Cincinnati and America fell ill. She oversaw a massive effort to get people vaccinated and 89,000 doses later, lives have been saved," the mayor-elect said. "Boggs Muething changed the way constituents interact with City Hall when they have a problem to impart equity and fairness into a process that was vulnerable to corruption and patronage. And when cities across our nation cried out for police reform last year, she did not rest on Cincinnati’s historic reputation, but acted swiftly to achieve monumental discipline reform in a matter of months. With more than a decade of city service, she has served with distinction and undoubtedly made our city a better place."

Pureval went on to say that the outgoing city manager has been "immensely helpful over the last several weeks to ensure a smooth transition."

Boggs Muething took over as city manager following the resignation of former City Manager Patrick Duhaney. Duhaney left for a similar job in Virginia Beach, Va.

Prior to her stint as city manager, Boggs Muething served as city solicitor (the city's top attorney who runs the law department) from 2014 through July 12, 2020. She’s also served as a litigator for the city during her career.

Before coming to the city, Boggs Muething served as general counsel and vice president of Community Revitalization of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, a county-wide economic development agency. She’s also been an associate at Keating, Muething and Klekamp, PLL (KMK) and a law clerk the Hon. James E. Keller while he was a judge on the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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