Monday, February 2, 2004

Florence found its new city manager in nearby Newport

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FLORENCE - She's trading a view of the Cincinnati skyline from her back porch in Newport for a view of the Florence Y'all water tower from the city coordinator's office.

After 71/2 years in Newport city government, Pat Wingo, 49, is taking the helm today in Florence.

Running a city wasn't something she had thought about until Mayor Diane Whalen talked to her about the job.

"I never really aspired to be a city manager or coordinator, or anything like that, I have just gone where it has taken me," Wingo said.

Wingo takes over for Jeff Koenig, who will work part-time for a month to bring Wingo up to speed.

Whalen said she met Wingo several years ago and liked her style.

"It was just a matter of knowing she was there," Whalen said, "and hoping she was interested."

Wingo was Newport economic development director for five years.

"I am excited for her to have the opportunity," said Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini. "There's no question it's a loss for Newport."

Wingo started as Newport's historic preservation officer in 1996 and was promoted two years later.

"People like her," he said. "She's got a personality that's very appealing and in this business that's very important."

"It's a big jump," Ciafardini said. "But I think she's a person who will do well and adapt quickly."

Wingo, who grew up in Cincinnati and graduated from Summit Country Day School, said she never planned on working in city government.

"I didn't go to school until I was much older," she said. She received a degree in history and historic preservation in 1992 from University of Cincinnati.

Though she doesn't take credit for it, Newport underwent a transformation during her tenure, including Newport on the Levee, the Newport Aquarium, a new streetscape on Monmouth Street and the redevelopment of the Cote Brilliant neighborhood.

"I always looked at everything we were doing as we were all doing it," she said. "I never said 'Oh, look what I did,' I said 'Oh look what we did, we got this together and made it all work'."

That team style of management is something she hopes to continue at Florence.

Wingo, whose salary will start at $75,000, will oversee 180 city employees in the city of 23,000. She and her husband Tom, a financial planner, have bought a home in Florence and plan to move this summer from Newport.



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