Hill tells us how he landed the position, its surprises and what he does in his off-time.
This is the first in an irregular (schedule-wise) series of Q&As we’re doing with people who have jobs that we’ve all heard of but don’t necessarily know a lot about. Mayor David Holt’s Chief of Staff Steve Hill seemed like the perfect starting point because he’s incredibly good at his job — we know because he’s the first point of contact when we need to talk to the mayor — and he’s always been gracious, kind, patient and responsive.
As concisely as possible, give us a job description for what your day-to-day looks like.
You know how job descriptions always end with “and other duties as assigned?” That’s my job description. As chief of staff, my schedule revolves around Mayor Holt’s schedule — I try to make sure that his days have few surprises.
How did you end up in the role, and was it a goal of yours or more of a “this sounds excellent” sort of thing?
Oddly, I wound up in this role because David Holt ran for the Oklahoma State Senate. Prior to that, Holt had been Mayor Cornett’s chief of staff. Holt won the Senate seat and Mick needed a new chief of staff. I was living and working in Dallas, and Mick, who I’d known from my days working in the OKC media, called and asked if I’d consider moving back to OKC. OKC had changed a lot since I’d left in the early ’90s and was a much more appealing place to live. My weird career has consisted of falling into interesting opportunities and, as you said, this sounded excellent.
How was the job different than you expected, and what was the most pleasant surprise?
I had previous experience in state and city government, so the job was mostly familiar. The most pleasant surprise was the quality of the city staff and elected officials. Mayor Holt is just a good human, and he’s one of the funniest people I know. I get to work with a lot of bright and good people at City Hall. They’re dedicated every day to making Oklahoma City a better place for everyone who chooses to live here — and they are just nice, kind people.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met and why?
This position has afforded me the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people — it’s one of the most rewarding parts of the position. I once met the Mayor of Mogadishu in Casablanca. His life story is fascinating, and his grace was inspiring. I always enjoy conversations with Harvard professors Mitch Weiss and Stephen Goldsmith, who are scary smart when it comes to municipal government innovation. I had lunch once with (then-South Bend Mayor) Pete Buttigieg. I started lunch thinking he was a young staffer and ended the lunch convinced he was the smartest person I’d ever met. Locally, Sam Presti fascinates me. Obviously, he knows a lot about basketball, but he’s intellectually curious about seemingly everything as well.
What do you do to get away — assuming you can — from the job and the pressure related?
Art, music, walking and hockey. I’m a notorious doodler. I’m hoping to try my hand at murals (bigger doodles) soon. I like checking out new live and recorded music — it’s been fun to see OKC’s music scene grow like it has over the past decade. I started walking a few years ago and try to get in 5 to 10 miles a day. I’m a Dallas Stars season ticket holder, so I head to Dallas on a lot of weekends (and some weeknights) to catch Stars hockey games.