Morrill Signs Off As Roanoke City Manager

Former City Manager Chris Morrill addresses Roanoke City Council.

Roanoke City Council has appointed assistant city managers Brian Townsend and Sherman Stovall as the interim replacements for Chris Morrill. City Councilman Dave Trinkle is heading up the search committee for Morrill’s permanent successor.

At a recent City Council meeting Trinkle told Morrill – appearing at the last scheduled council meeting before his tenure ends on April 15 – that “you taught us to accept change as a constant – but [also] to embrace who we really are.”

Morrill is leaving for a private sector job in Chicago, although his family will remain here for a while for school reasons. Townsend will become the interim City Manager until June 30th; Stovall takes over after that. Trinkle said that the search for Morrill’s replacement may take 4 to 6 months. He also said Morrill helped Roanoke realize “it was an authentic city.”

While Morrill helped usher in some of the more “glitzy” aspects to Roanoke, Trinkle said Morrill also paid attention to social services and some of the other less glamorous things cities have to do.

City Council honored Morrill with a lengthy resolution – and a standing ovation. Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea said Morrill is “leaving the city in good shape. You have been a guiding light for me as far as becoming mayor. We’ve got some great things going on in the city.” Lea also said Morrill encouraged him to talk about some of the challenges Roanoke has – like poverty, shining a light on things the city still has to work on. “Forward thinking, visionary leadership,” said Lea of Morrill, who had been on the job for 7 years.

Morrill, who came to Roanoke from Savannah, Georgia, where he been the assistant city manager, joked at the council meeting that, “I’m not dying, I’m just going to Chicago. We really [made progress] together. The city is in a really great place right now. There will be people from around the country knocking down the door to work here as city manager.”

Gene Marrano