PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - The open city council meeting in Portsmouth lasted only a fewminutes Wednesday night, but it didn't take long to lay out thechallenge facing the six members.
"I think this is the single most important decision this or anyother council can be called upon to make," said CouncilmemberStephen Heretick.
After voters ousted James Holley from the mayor's seat in arecall by a two-to-one margin, city council will have to pick theinterim mayor, a decision no one takes lightly.
"I think this is a very critical time in the history of ourcity," said councilmember Bill Moody.
For city council, it is a chance to move beyond a mayor thatpolarized the city and find someone who's personal agenda focuseson the city.
"There's no doubt in my mind that we can come to a unanimousdecision on a man or woman to lead us into the future and providethe healing that this community frankly needs right now," saidCouncilmember Elizabeth Psimas.
Moments later, city council went into closed session, meetingfor two and a half hours to figure out who will lead the city untila special election later this year. After the meeting, Vice MayorCharles Whitehurst kept quiet about the discussion, only sayingcouncilmembers will take their time to decide.
"We have to make sure we're looking at people and doingbackground checks and those kinds of things," Whitehurst said, "sowe want to make sure we're not making any mistakes in being inhaste."
For now, Portsmouth will operate without a leader, relying oncity council for leadership. Council said it will be two weeksuntil they talk about the interim mayor again, at which point theyexpect to make a decision.
Council will announce the decision on July 27 at the public worksession at 7:00 p.m.
The statement is below:
The Portsmouth City Council has met to consider the difficultchoices facing us to select the next Mayor of Portsmouth. Ourdeliberations have been productive, cordial, and collaborative,reflecting our collective duty to our community. In order to permitus to undertake the necessary due diligence to complete thisprocess, we will adjourn our deliberations until Monday, July 26,2010 at 5:00 p.m. We anticipate reaching a final decision on thatdate, and electing the next Mayor of the City of Portsmouth in ourpublic session at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, 2010. This is anunanimous decision by the Portsmouth City Council.
The Portsmouth City Council will have no further public commenton this decision until July 27, 2010.
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