Transcript Staff Writer

Norman city councilmembers had praise for outgoing City Manager Brad Gambill at his last meeting in that position Tuesday.

But Gambill, while emphasizing his love for the city and people of Norman, had stern words for council.

Gambill, a retired Army National Guard major general, announced his retirement because of health concerns after being diagnosed with cancer recently and previous heart problems. He cited the stress of the job as a factor.

"This is a tough job," Gambill said. "A public servant is not a slave. And a public servant should not be put in a position to be blasted. ... We work hard for the citizens of Norman. We're part of this community and what our job is -- is implementing what you want to do. ... So that's very important."

But he was also highly complimentary of the city he managed.

"This community is full of good people with good intentions -- well-meaning," Gambill said. "Norman is a great place to live and that's probably the most important thing. A good place to have a job, good place to go to school. It's one of the safest communities in the country. ... It's got a lot of advantages. And I'm glad I'm retiring in Norman."

Council spoke first and had nothing but glowing words for Gambill.

Mayor Harold Haralson said Gambill had the good of the city at heart.

"I personally am going to miss him," Haralson said.

Ward 7 councilmember Doug Cubberley said he was impressed with the job Gambill did.

"And he's my constituent, so I still have to listen to him," Cubberley joked, noting Gambill lives just down the street from him. "I really appreciate Brad. His open door policy and willingness to listen and take charge ... I really appreciate that. He will be so missed. ... I was not ready for him to leave, but it's time."

"You clearly care about the people and the city," said Ward 5 councilmember Rachel Butler.

Ward 6 councilmember David Hopper said when Gambill tackled a job, he would already have a plan of action for any problem.

Hopper said they wondered what it would be like if they hired the retired two-star general as city manager. He found out at a meeting of the nuisance house committee.

"He stood up in front of this committee gathering and said, 'Well, I've had my staff go over this.' ... And he had one, two, three, four, five recommendations."

Ward 2 councilmember Richard Stawicki said he met Gambill before he became a councilmember on a trip to Edmond on city business.

"The best part was me -- being a former staff sergeant -- getting chauffeured by a major general," Stawicki said.

Ward 1 councilmember Bob Thompson said Gambill was receptive anytime councilmembers would bring a constituent's problem to him.

"Brad got them solved very quickly," Thompson said.

Ward 4 councilmember Cindy Rosenthal said she appreciated Gambill's access to councilmembers and citizens alike.

"At the end of the day, it's your desire to do great things," Rosenthal said.

Gambill's reception is planned at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the multipurpose room in the Municipal Building.

Carol Cole 366-3538

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