PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Tuesday marked the first Portsmouth City Council meeting for Tonya Chapman since she was hired as city manager in June.
The former police chief’s new leadership role has been surrounded by controversy. 10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox was outside the conference room for the Portsmouth City Council.
“I’m going to definitely try,” Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke said when asked whether council members would be on their best behaviors for the first meeting overseen by Chapman as city manager.
“I can’t speak for the other six,” added Lucas-Burke. “I am going to be on my best behavior.”
Lucas-Burke previously expressed the idea of a retreat for the council members, an idea Portsmouth Vice Mayor De’Andre Barnes agreed with when questioned by Andy Fox.
“I look forward to having that,” Barnes said.
Outside the city hall, Portsmouth residents congregated for what they called a “peaceful demonstration” expressing their “displeasure of decisions” of the city council.
Terry Danaher was the spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens of Portsmouth, who are trying to recall Vice-Mayor De’Andre Barnes and Councilman Mark Whitaker.
“I hate to say stop the steal, but they have stolen our government. They have broken it and we need to do something about it.”
The word “ethics” came from Susan Freeman with the Concerned Citizens of Portsmouth,
“It’s ethics. Ethics is perfect, that’s what’s going on. There is nothing ethical about our city council.”
The meeting comes a week after Chapman, on her third workday on the job, fired Portsmouth Police Chief Renado Prince.
The first official confirmation of Prince’s departure came from Peter Glagola, the city’s recently hired director of marketing and communication, who stated in an email Tuesday: “It is with regret that we announce that Police Chief Renado Prince is no longer with the city of Portsmouth, as of July 5, 2022.”
The day after the announcement, Chapman issued this statement on Prince’s ousting, saying that she did not take the decision lightly.
Chapman had to endure a lot of anger from some of the speakers during the meeting.
“The city manager was hired by strange and inexplicable standards I have never seen in this city,” Portsmouth resident Steve Carroll added.
It is clear the people in the chamber are opposed to the four-council member majority.
“We are all one body back here,” said Debbie Norton waving to all the people behind her in the audience.
“You all can’t get it together, but we are all one body, and you won’t listen to us because you seven can’t get it together.”
Mark Geduldig Yatrofsky, also a Portsmouth resident and a frequent speaker at council, reminded those gathered council meetings are not supposed to be sporting events.
“It’s tough to maintain good order in a room full of people, and it’s incumbent of the people who are sitting in the room to regulate their own behavior.”
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.