In order for a city to thrive, it must have the trust of its people as well as regional and state leadership.
That, Kim Haws explained, is what he strives to highlight when he becomes Morgantown’s chief executive this December.
During its most recent regular session Morgantown City Council voted unanimously to hire Haws after a six-month search that drew more than 100 candidates from across the country.
Haws, whose 20-year stint as the city manager of Bridgeport ended in January of 2019, will be paid a base salary of $150,000 plus benefits for his efforts.
Born in New Mexico, Haws grew up in Mesa, Ariz., where he married. He moved to West Virginia 22 years ago to be closer to his wife’s family.
He got into city management upon request after working on a handful of community projects in St. Johns, Ariz. From there, he got a masters degree in public administration. That was 35 years ago.
When the Bridgeport City Council opted not to renew his contract in January of last year, Haws said he wasn’t ready to call it a career. As fate would have it, Paul Brake would leave Morgantown to go home to Michican months later.
“First of all, I wasn’t ready to get out of city management. I enjoy it too much. Secondly, I didn’t want to leave West Virginia,” Haws said. “Frankly, there was only one position that was appealing to me since leaving Bridgeport and that was Morgantown. So when it became available, it made perfect sense to me. It’s a dynamic environment in Morgantown, which I thrive on. I know it will be an invigorating environment to work in.”
Haws said he prides himself on taking a hands-on approach to economic development. He points to the billion-dollar Charles Pointe development and the construction of a new United Hospital Center facility as among his most successful efforts in Bridgeport.
He said his priority is bringing that attention to the ongoing development of the Morgantown Municipal Airport and its runway extension project.
“One of the strong talking points from city council in the hiring process was the need to continue the development of the airport. I really feel strongly that its development and the completion of the runway project, along with all the rippling economic development out there, is the future of growth for Morgantown,” Haws said.
One of the first orders of business for Haws will be selecting a substantial portion of his leadership team. Along with the, now filled, city manager position, the city is in the process of selecting a new police chief, finance director and city planner.
“When there’s change that occurs within an organization, that can also be an opportunity to inject new blood and new energy. I see those kinds of changes as being helpful and necessary for all organizations,” he said.
Effective leadership, Haws said, is being able to manage the constant motion, uncertainty and challenges of running a municipality.
“The key is to manage the craziness,” he laughed.