An obvious pick for Savannah’s next City Manager

In his interesting and entertaining column today — Chris Morrill, phone home — Tom Barton considers the possibility of bringing back Savannah’s former Assistant City Manager to take over as permanent City Manager.

Several friends have asked me about the prospects of such a move, and I have no doubt that engaged citizens all over Savannah are wondering the same thing.

There seems little doubt that Chris Morrill would have become Savannah City Manager back in 2010 if the timeline had played out differently. At a time when it was known that both Morrill and longtime City Manager Michael Brown were looking at other jobs, Morrill was offered the top spot in Roanoke not long before Brown was offered the top spot in Arlington. Brown turned out not to be “a good fit” in Arlington, but Morrill seems to be doing fine. In the latest news, Morrill is overseeing some important infrastructure projects that could impact quality of life for Roanoke residents.

I’m not going to recap all of the positive things Tom Barton has to say in his column today, but let me add one.

Chris understands urban design. He recognizes good urbanist principles. He understands zoning, land use, and other issues that a manager in a city like Savannah needs to understand.

For the second year in a row, he’s one of the speakers at the Roanoke-based City Works (X)po, which features a magnificent lineup with expertise in what makes cities thrive. [Update: I should add that the speakers include two Savannahians: Christian Sottile and Tom Kohler.]

I’ve considered going up to Roanoke for the event, but I find it tricky to get away from Savannah for a variety of reasons.

Of course, there are many city administrators around the country with expertise in land planning, multi-modal transportation, and other related issues. We can and should prioritize that when we get around to searching for a permanent City Manager.

And I hope someone has gotten in touch with Morrill to see if he has any interest in a return after two years away. I’m guessing that he won’t be interested in coming back right now — he seems really invested in the current job and in Roanoke itself. But it sure can’t hurt to ask.