New city manager begins in Piqua

PIQUA — Paul Oberdorfer thinks he was meant to become the Piqua City Manager.

His interviews for the position with the Piqua City Commission and city leadership team were naturals.

“With the commission, there was good synergy. The leadership team has the right dynamic. When I interviewed with them, it just clicked,” he said. “I think I was always meant to be here.”

Oberdorfer, 52, was hired by the City Commission late last year as Gary Huff, city manager since 2011, prepared to retire.

Oberdorfer also was a candidate for the city manager job in Westerville, Ohio.

An Akron native, Oberdorfer’s public service career started out of the University of Akron with a co-op job as a drafting technician with the Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 in northeastern Ohio.

He worked 10 years for ODOT in heavy construction inspections and project management then was promoted to District 4 facility manager overseeing wastewater treatment plants and public water systems. The counties in District 4 are Summit, Stark, Ashtabula, Mahoning, Portage and Trumbull.

When the economy soured in 2007-08, Oberdorfer was looking for something different, a job with “better impact.” The son of a Lutheran minister and a nurse, “I wanted to do something that created an outcome, a beneficial outcome.”

He attended Malone University to study business and turned to public works.

He moved into city government as public service director in Green, Ohio, in 2015 before being appointed public works director in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. In 2019, he was promoted to deputy city manager.

With that job he “really got a taste for the inside, how the administration runs, what impact you can make” in local government. When the opportunity in Piqua came up, he was interested.

“I missed Ohio. Virginia is beautiful but there is something about Ohio that makes you feel at home,” he said.

His first day on the job was Jan. 11. Since, Oberdorfer has started meeting with staff and others to get the ball rolling.

Because the Piqua government center remains closed due to COVID-19, he has been venturing into the community for lunch and opportunities to meet local business owners and other leaders.

“It seems like Gary Huff primed the pump. The infrastructure is here; things are ready to go,” he said.

He thinks the Lock 9 Park development downtown will be the “crown jewel” for the community.

“I see this as a great opportunity to take a community that has been put in a position to move forward and become a place that people want to come and enjoy the amenities, not just come here to work and then go home,” Oberdorfer said.

He, his wife, Crystal, and two cats have relocated to Piqua.

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