Editors note: This is part of an ongoing series of conversations with city and county officials, beginning in Carter County before branching out into greater Southern Oklahoma. This week features Ardmore’s assistant city manager, Kevin Boatright.

Q: What made you want to start a career in municipal government?

A: “When I was growing up I was always very active. Whether it was Boy Scouts, playing baseball, football, or being in some community group, I was always very active. So when I actually went to college I tried to find things that would be like that, too. Things that you could be out in the community and be involved with a lot of different things. I have a natural passion for sports. Anyone that knows me, knows that. Of course I didn’t have the athletic ability to play college sports, so parks and recreation to me was a natural gravitation for me. You get to work for cities, meet lots of people, help put on a lot of events and get to build a lot of nice facilities that citizens get to use. There are tangible things that you can walk out and see when you’re done. I had something positive to do with that. So I was naturally drawn to that because that was the way I was raised and the way I grew up. I was very fortunate that when I got interested in that I was able to talk to some people in the city that I worked in that did something similar to that. They were always very supportive and said if that’s something you’re really interested in I think this field of study would be really good for you. And that’s how I got into parks and recreation. Eventually I went to graduate school and was a graduate assistant. I worked at the university and did very similar things on campus.”

Q: How did you make the transition to assistant city manager?

A: “Up until 2014, when City Manager J.D. Spohn asked me to be assistant city manager, all of my experience was in parks and recreation. I had been doing that for 21 years and worked for two cities in parks and recreation. I knew after doing that for 21 years that I was interested in doing more and knowing more. I wanted to participate more and help people all across the city. I agreed to do that after much deliberation, talk with my family and some frank discussions with J.D. because he had been the fire chief, then assistant city manager and then city manager so we had some very frank, candid discussions about that and what all that includes. I looked into all the good and bad and everything in-between. So after that I decided this would be a good challenge for me and would be very similar to what I had done in the past as far as trying to meet the needs of people and impact the quality of life of where they live. So I just kind of embraced it and said I’m ready to do it.”

Q: How is Ardmore better than cities around us?

A: “We have a lot of community-minded people who can see the big picture. We have a lot of city staff who can see the big picture and are community oriented and work toward that. That’s really important. You can’t get hung up on the small day-to-day things sometimes. We have a lot of city staff, elected officials and citizens who are all community minded and work toward the big picture and what is best for the community as a whole. I’ve seen other cities that don’t have that and that’s why I think Ardmore is different.”

Q: How does your job differ from that of the city manager?

A: “Well, I take the things J.D. would like to see in the city and try to support and enhance that. I also take some of the smaller day-to-day things that he may not have time for and hopefully find a solution for the issue. I can solve internal and external issues that employees or citizens may have and try to find a solution for that. One of the things I’ve found is that we don’t ever seem to have enough time or money to solve all the issues that come up. So, hopefully, I can better use my time to take some of those issues that J.D. may not have time for. That way he has more time to work with those bigger issues that he needs to handle directly.”

Q: What has been your biggest challenge as assistant city manger?

A: “I don’t want to sound like a parrot repeating myself, but it has to do with time. Because if we’re looking at a concern a business owner has, a citizen has, or an employee has, giving them enough time to address each of their concerns. You have so many things that need to be addressed each day so it’s just juggling whether or not I gave each issue enough time and the time it deserves. There’s just not enough hours in the day or enough days in the week. But I accept that challenge and I think it’s good.”

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge the people of Ardmore face?

A: “Well, I guess I could tie that in to some of the projects we have going on in the community. Each of these projects contain change. Sometimes, as a community dealing with the outcomes of change, it’s difficult. You have to have an open mind, big picture orientated vision.That’s hard sometimes because we get used to the way things are.”

Q: How have you seen Ardmore change?

A: “I think since I came here in 1999, there has been an increased interest in city government. There are now more questions about what we do and why we do it. A lot of people don’t realize, and I try to tell them, there are a lot of ways to get involved in your city government if you want to. We have many advisory boards and public trust boards that are all citizens. When I moved here, for the first five or ten years, you had to hunt  people down to serve in that capacity, but now we have a lot of people who are interested and asking ‘how do I get involved?’”