PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A bitterly divided Portsmouth City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday evening to appoint Former Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman as city manager, with a start date on June 22 and starting salary of $200,000. This comes two weeks after the same motion failed.
Councilman Mark Whitaker put forth a motion to appoint Chapman as city manager. Councilman Whitaker joined with Councilman Paul Battle, Councilman Christopher Woodard Jr. and Vice Mayor De'Andre Barnes to pass the motion appointing Chapman.
Chapman, Virginia's first African American female chief of a municipal police department, abruptly resigned from the city's police department in March 2019, stirring controversy. She took on the position in Feb. 2016.
Woodard had voted against Chapman's appointment at the May 31 meeting but noted at the time he wanted to revisit the motion at the June 14 meeting.
Mayor Shannon Glover, Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke and Councilman Bill Moody voted against the appointment. During the June 14 meeting, the mayor said he wasn't aware Chapman was being considered.
Tuesday's meeting was full of heated discussion and pointed remarks. At one point, Glover ordered Councilman Whitaker removed from the chamber; however, Whitaker put forth a motion to override the mayor's order, which passed 4-3, preventing his removal. The meeting adjourned shortly thereafter.
During the meeting, Glover said the candidate for city manager should go through a proper process.
"My fundamental problem with this is we have a candidate who was not discussed by the whole council and who was fired by the City of Portsmouth," Glover said.
At times, the meeting got heated between city council members. They voted to end the meeting early after several heated debates, with Battle abruptly leaving before the meeting was over.
"This meeting is no longer productive. We have reached a point where this is a divided council, so it does not make sense to continue with a divided council to move forward," Glover said.
Whitaker says he’s eager to have Chapman come on board as city manager later this month.
"We are very excited that we’re able to get someone as talented as Ms. Chapman. I think she’s a unifying person for our city. I think she brings a wealth of experience," Whitaker said.
News 3's John Cowley contributed to this report.