Spring Lake to hire fired manager in Kenly after police force resigns

SPRING LAKE — Spring Lake’s likely next city manager has been fired from her last job in a layoff that made national headlines, but Spring Lake’s mayor says Justine Jones is well-qualified with the leadership abilities she needs. the city needed.

The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen voted 3-2 on Monday to offer the job to Jones with plans for her to start Oct. 24. The contract is expected to be approved by the council, the city attorney, the state Local Government Commission and Jones. .

The commission took control of Spring Lake’s finances last year when state officials grew concerned that the city could not meet its financial obligations.

Two city council members oppose hiring

Spring Lake Mayor Kia Anthony said she would have liked the vote to hire Jones to have been unanimous, but respects board members Marvin Lackman and Raul Palacios for their votes against hiring.

Pro Tem Mayor Robyn Chadwick and Board Members Sona L. Cooper and Adrian Jones Thompson voted to hire Jones.

Palocios explained during the meeting why he opposed hiring Jones.

“I feel like there was someone more qualified and has the experience that the city needs right now,” he said.

Anthony said she doesn’t think upvotes will be a problem for Jones.

“I just believe Ms. Jones is the best candidate,” Anthony said.

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Anthony said that in addition to her and the five board members, the city’s five department heads participated in interviews with potential managers. Department heads were unanimous in their support for Jones and were thrilled to work with her, Anthony said.

“It weighed heavily,” she said.

Kenly investigation found no ‘toxic work environment’

Anthony said an independent investigation cleared Jones of wrongdoing after he was fired as Kenly city manager.

Kenly City Council voted 3-2 in August to end Jones’ contract with the city, according to a report by The Associated Press. The vote came after the entire city police force and two other city employees quit the previous month, saying Jones had created a hostile, toxic and stressful work environment.

Kenly Mayor Tooie Hales said an investigation found no toxic work environment, but Jones was fired because it was the ‘best way forward for the town “, according to the report.

Anthony said the investigation into Kenly revealed the allegations against Jones were unfounded.

“I don’t think that should be held against her,” Anthony said. “It appears she was the victim in this case rather than the offender.”

Anthony said she had concerns about the optics involved in hiring a city manager who was recently fired. But Anthony said that since she sometimes feels like she’s being blamed for incidents that happened before she became mayor, she understands the position Jones finds herself in.

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“I can really sympathize with Ms. Jones,” Anthony said. “I think this opportunity gives him a chance to show his abilities.”

Jones probably feels like she has something to prove and Spring Lake will give her the opportunity to move forward, Anthony said.

“As Spring Lake works hard to repair its own image, it has a chance to do the same,” Anthony said.

The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to appoint Fire Chief Jason Williams as interim chief executive. Acting City Manager Joe Durham’s contract ended last month.

Editor Steve DeVane can be reached at [email protected]

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