Turmoil with city manager position once again puts Portsmouth in spotlight

PT city council Angel Jones terminated (May 24)
Posted at 4:27 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 17:25:35-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Turmoil in the City of Portsmouth has once again put the city in the spotlight.

The last drama centers around the city manager position. Last week, four of the seven city council members voted to fire City Manager Angel Jones. On Tuesday night, three of those same council members attempted to appoint former Police Chief Tonya Chapman to the position, but their efforts failed for now.

News 3 asked council member Lisa Lucas-Burke on Wednesday if she's worried the city's reputation is being harmed. Comments Lucas-Burke made last week have gone viral.

"I am not, because we're doing what's right for the city. We're trying to get to a point that the actions we're taking will soon level out," Lucas-Burke responded.

It's no secret the city council is divided, but there's been division in the city for years.

In 2015, the city council abruptly fired the city manager and city attorney during a meeting.

In 2019, the sudden resignation of Chapman led to some angrily questioning the city leadership after Chapman said she was forced out.

In 2020, protests at the Confederate Monument brought the city national attention.

News 3 asked Lucas-Burke about why there seems to be so much turmoil and what can be done to address it.

"I think we have to get the mixture right of people serving. The city council needs to look like what the city looks like," Lucas-Burke answered.

On the other side, City Councilman Paul Battle said he's trying to make the city government be more fair.

"You have to remember that this has to work for everybody," he said.

There are three city council seats up for re-election this year, as of now. Mayor Shannon Glover said on Tuesday night it'll be up for the voters to decide whether they want government to operate this way or make a change.

"What's next is we have to come together and there's nothing more important than having qualified, committed people on our city council," Glover said.

As for next steps in hiring a city manager, several of the city council members said they want the process to play out as it has in the past with applications, but it does appear like Chapman's name could be in the mix again in the future.

News 3 attempted to contact Chapman Wednesday, but didn't get a response.