Tonya Chapman attends first Portsmouth City Council meeting as city manager

Council remains divided on some issues
Generic: Portsmouth City Hall
Posted at 10:42 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 23:10:08-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The Portsmouth City Council met Tuesday night in front of a packed house.

Tuesday's meeting was Tonya Chapman's first as city manager. Chapman, the former Chief of Police for the Portsmouth Police Department, was narrowly confirmed in a 4-to-3 vote after a divided council suddenly voted to fire then-City Manager Angel Jones. Chapman greeted and spoke with residents before the council meeting.

"Who on earth would want to relocate to Portsmouth, find housing and make friends, then 10 months later find oneself unemployed?" one public speaker asked.

"Right after you fired Angel Jones, you were in a real big hurry to get you a new city manager," another public speaker said. "Then that got deferred."

Meanwhile, outside City Hall, a group called the Concerned Citizens of Portsmouth rallied, calling for the recall of City Council members De'Andre Barnes and Mark Whitaker.

"What has been happening is they have been hijacking the agenda at every council meeting," Terry Danaher with the Concerned Citizens of Portsmouth said. "They are bringing up really important things like hiring and firing city managers."

Tuesday, council members were of one accord when it came to voting on some agenda items. The council unanimously voted to build multi-family apartments on Lexington Drive.

In a 4-to-3 vote, City Council voted not to build a storage facility unit on Effingham Street. That motion was presented by Delegate Don Scott, who's representing Safe Storage to build a facility in Portsmouth.

"It is not my project. It's a project that my client asked me to bring forward," Scott said. "I brought that project forward. It's City Council's right to approve or deny a project."

He added, "Each one of them made their decision. There are plenty of times this place has been vacant — this property has been vacant for 30 years. It's not earning any income."

As for Chapman, she'll hold her first press conference Thursday morning to discuss her goals for the city.