SIDNEY — Mark Cundiff, who served his last day as Sidney city manager on Friday, Nov. 5, and his wife Peggy are making big life changes by living out retirement in the mountains of North Carolina.
Cundiff retired Friday after a 35-year-career in public service. He was the city of Sidney’s 13th and longest serving city manager.
“It’s exciting (to be retiring) but also a little scary. But it is time,” Cundiff said from his nearly empty office in City Hall during his last couple of weeks as city manager. “I remember talking to someone 20 years ago who said when you are ready you will know. —I’m ready.”
Cundiff graduated from Greenville High School, and received a bachelor’s degree in political science with a public administration concentration, and a master’s degree in applied behavioral science, both from Wright State University.
After shifting from perusing a career as a tennis pro to one in public service, Cundiff found himself serving twice in his career at the city of Sidney. He previously served in Sidney as the city planner, the community development director and then assistant city manager from 1989 until he relocated to Greenville, Illinois, in 1989. He then came back to Ohio two years later as the planning director for the city of Troy before becoming the village manager of Yellow Springs, and then returned to Sidney to round out the final years of his career as the city manager in 2012.
When asked about the accomplishments which he was most proud of as city manager, Cundiff’s humility shined through. He shied away from taking any credit himself and instead point out the hard work of others.
“There is very little I accomplished on my own,” he said before listing big projects the city had completed, including the additional water source for the city, the passage of the street levy, electrical aggregation change, various capital projects, and plugging people into vacant roles due to retirements. He lamented not finishing the Ohio Building before retirement, and getting the roundabout approved.
Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst issued a proclamation and the Sidney City Council adopted a resolution praising Cundiff for his dedicated work performance near the end of October. The resolution cited Cundiff’s budget consciousness, ability to multi-task, his oversight of staff, and the promotion of achievement for those around him who helped strengthened the city of Sidney. Barhorst was more forthcoming about Cundiff’s good work with the city.
“Historically, it’s difficult to measure performance without the passage of time,” Barhorst said when asked about Cundiff. “Even so, I know that council agrees that Mark was able to play a critical role in achieving and maintaining the city of Sidney’s robust fiscal health, delivering balanced budgets while increasing reserves and achieving a AA+ bond rating during periods of worldwide pandemic and economic turbulence.”
“In addition, Mark led the city through the construction of numerous capital projects that have brought great benefit to the community,” Barhorst continued. “Those include the extension of the main runway at Sidney Municipal Airport, the development of the well field including the construction of the water transmission line from the well field to the water treatment plant, the renovation and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, and the continued development of the Canal Feeder Trail, among others.”
“The other critical role that Mark played was the strengthening of relationships with other governmental entities, businesses and industry,” Barhorst said. “Mark worked to leverage existing relationships and encourage new ones, enhancing the city’s ability to attract and retain local business and industry. He encouraged the revitalization of the downtown, and begin the transition of the downtown into the vibrant heart of the community. Certainly council members wish him well in retirement.”
Peggy Cundiff said, “I am extremely proud of Mark for his 38 years of public service. Public service is often an underappreciated career, but from the very beginning Mark felt honored to work for the betterment of every community we had the privilege of being a part of. We will miss Sidney most of all, but are excited to head to the mountains to begin the next adventure together climbing mountains and making more memories.”
The Cundiffs have been visiting the area around Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, for the past 13 years, and decided the recreational environment it offers, with plenty of golfing, hiking, site-seeing and even skiing is where they will be retiring. Mark said he will no longer have lawn work to do, but from their balcony they can see various wildlife, including bears close by.
“We are going from a larger place, to a smaller, two bedroom condo, less than 1,000-square-feet,” Mark said, but noted he is excited for he and his wife’s time together. He praised Peggy for being supportive and doing the “heavy lifting” in raising their two children, Patrick and Kelsey. Mark said his kids, Patrick, a professor at Western Michigan University, and Kelsey, an associate professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, are located away from their retirement home, so they will see how long they remain in North Carolina.
Mark also said he will miss the people he works with and especially their Sidney friends and the guys he plays golf with, but looks for to the next chapter — similar to what Peggy said, “The Mountains are calling and we are going.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.