PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth leaders have a new top choice for their next city manager and she could be officially appointed Thursday.
Mayor Shannon Glover said Monday a majority of City Council came to a consensus to offer the city’s top job to Angel Jones, a former city manager for the City of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Jones served in that role from September 2008 to June 2012 before resigning to “pursue other career opportunities,” according to Montgomery Community Media. Since that time, she has served as a “senior consultant” for NOVAD Management Consulting, INC. where her resume says she completed work for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Glover gave a public statement Monday afternoon on Jones, saying in part that Jones was in the “top tier” of candidates given to council by their headhunting firm.
Glover believes Jones will be good for the job for a few reasons: Jones has worked as city manager before, has strong accolades from others, and knows Virginia after having worked for the City of Richmond in the Public Utilities and Parks and Recreation departments.
Jones also served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves for 14 years as finance and equal employment officer.
“I believe with the public service and military experience, she will be a good fit,” Glover said.
A city manager is essentially the CEO of the city. Whoever fills the role is responsible for presenting a balanced yearly budget, hiring key department heads such as police chief, and seeing through City Council’s initiatives. The most recent city manager made $211,000 in base pay.
Jones could not be reached for comment.
However, Vice-Mayor De’Andre Barnes made clear he wouldn’t be supporting Jones.
“I didn’t envision this being the bold new direction the mayor suggested,” Barnes said. “I think that our city is going into a new direction. We have a lot of young people, young talent in our city that would like to see someone in that position who is young and ready to take our city into the 21st century.”
Jones is the third name to surface as a contender of city manager.
WAVY’s political team had reported earlier this month that City Council’s top choice was local businesswoman and former city employee Sunshine Swinson, but critics pointed to Swinson’s indictment by a grand jury in 2018 on two counts of welfare fraud. She has yet to be arraigned on the charges and her attorney, Del. Don Scott (D-Portsmouth) said he is “100% confident Swinson would be cleared of the charges against her.”
Council has also been considering the controversial appointment of former councilman Danny Meeks, and Barnes was among those who did appoint him before rescinding the vote in January.
Unlike in other cities where searches for a city manager has occurred behind closed doors with little to know information going public, Portsmouth’s search has played out more like political campaign.
Barnes called it “childish” and said he believes a majority of council members are rallying around Jones because of “outside influences.”
“I’m 100% sure that it was people outside of the interview room pulling for this particular person. I think it comes down to having control,” Barnes said. “We need a person who is not tied in to with the people who have actually been controlling this city for years which is why we are in the mess we are in today.”
LaVoris Pace has served as interim city manager since the sudden resignation of Dr. Lydia Pettis-Patton in September 2020. Patton’s tenure was marked by controversy with state Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) once referring to her as “a puppet” for some city council members.
City Council will officially vote to appoint the next city manager during a virtual meeting March 18 at 5 p.m.
Barnes warns this may not be a done deal.
“I doesn’t seem like anything’s a done deal when it comes to this city,” Barnes said.