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Vote to appoint former Portsmouth Police chief as new city manager fails

PT city council Angel Jones terminated (May 24)
Posted at 5:21 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 23:22:52-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A week after Portsmouth City Council voted in 4-3 vote to suddenly fire City Manager Angel Jones, council members met with intentions to appoint someone new to fill the role.

In a special council meeting Tuesday evening, the council voted whether to appoint former Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman to replace Jones. The vote failed 4-3, with Mayor Shannon Glover and Councilmembers Christopher Woodard Jr., Bill Moody and Lisa Lucas-Burke denying the appointment.

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.

Mayor Glover said he was not aware that Chapman was being considered.

"The mayor was not notified who that candidate is," Mayor Glover said in Tuesday's city council meeting. "I suspect Ms. Chapman is a wonderful lady. I will not support a candidate that had not been vetted, not gone through the proper hiring process."

The mayor said that applicants should go through the proper application process before a vote.

"We would have to through our HR department or through a job search agency to find the criteria that we want to put out in the space," Glover said.

Chapman applied to be city manager more than a year ago when Jones was selected for the job.

Angel Jones terminated as PT city manager (May 24)
Angel Jones

"She did submit an application, but she did not make the final rounds. In fact, she did not make the interview process," Councilman Moody said.

Originally, Moody was not going to run for re-election, but he tells News 3 he will seek re-election after Jones' sudden firing.

Many council members call for an application before a new city manager is voted on.

"The city manager is the CFO of the city. There should be a process involved in the hiring of that process," Moody said.

"I love Tonya Chapman, and I don’t want to see her in the mix of this. As soon as she doesn’t do what they say, then she’s out, and I don’t want to see her tarnished like that," Councilwoman Lucas-Burke said.

Lucas-Burke believes a new city manager should be chosen in January after city council re-elections.

"Just the timing is not right; the process is not right, and we are already divided as a council," Lucas-Burke said.

There is no word yet on when city council will vote for a new city manager. Councilman Woodard stated in the council meeting that he would like to start the process during the next city council meeting on June 14, while others would like to wait until January.

Last week, we sat down with Portsmouth's Vice Mayor De'Andre Barnes to discuss why he voted to remove Jones. In the interview, Barnes stated that Jones didn't do enough to address crime. However, a mother impacted by gun violence told News 3 that Jones was credited for helping her and other families impacted by gun violence, addressing gun violence in Portsmouth.

Mayor Shannon Glover was one of three council members who voted to keep Jones in office. Glover stated he supported Jones and that Jones did a great job in her role.

Related: 'I apologize for not saying it sooner': Portsmouth Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke responds to criticism after heated city council meeting