ENID, Okla. — After a three-year vacancy, the city of Enid has a new assistant city manager.
The role hasn't been filled since the spring 2016 departure of Joan Riley, who left to serve as city manager of Sapulpa, but now an internal hire has been selected.
Scott Morris, a 10-year Enid public servant, started his first day in the position Aug. 5.
"There's probably nobody better at the city with interpersonal relations than Scott, and that was pretty high on the list of what I'm looking for," city manager Jerald Gilbert said. "Good communication skills, and good judgment are priceless. Scott has all those things, so he rose to the top."
The search for an assistant hadn't been going on for long, Gilbert said. He didn't spring for a new one after Riley left in his second year.
"I made a conscious decision for a while to leave the position vacant, for various reasons," he said. One was to save money, another was to better familiarize himself with the various processes that come with his desk. Also, the position wasn't budgeted for two years, he said.
Over time, the potential benefit of an assistant became more apparent, he said, deciding his workload could use an extra set of shoulders.
"I've come around to a full understanding that I need help," Gilbert said.
He's putting Morris in charge of oversight for seven or eight departments, half of the city's 16, allowing Gilbert to focus more intently on other matters.
The full list of Morris' duties are still being hashed out, but one certainty is he will be overseeing the utilities department, where he previously worked as supervisor for seven years.
"During that time I got a really good grasp on how to deal with people coming in with concerns and questions about their service with the city," Morris said, adding that he appreciated the chances to help people, which the position regularly provided.
He hopes the title of assistant city manager will afford similar opportunities.
"I'm a small-town guy, and Enid is my home. I want to help people, and that's why I'm here," Morris said. "I want to contribute to the community that invested in me."
A six-year stint living and working in Dallas was more than enough metropolitan living for him, he said. The experience gave him a new appreciation for Enid. He returned with his family and soon after, started working for the city.
"Scott understands the city. He's from here, he's been to the big city but he made a choice to come back here," Gilbert said. When it comes to senior leadership in the city, he said it's helpful when they're born and raised in the place they're serving.
"If you've grown up here, the more you're going to understand Enid, I think, and be able to be a good fit here," he said. "Scott's a hometown guy."