PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The sudden firing of Portsmouth City Manager Angel Jones led to an explosive city council meeting.
In March 2021, Portsmouth City Council hired Jones in a 4-3 vote, and in an abrupt decision Tuesday night, council members fired Jones in a 4-3 vote.
“I’m pissed as a (expletive)!” exclaimed Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke during the meeting Tuesday. “Yes, I said it. I am pissed as a (expletive).”
Mayor Shannon Glover called Jones’ firing “unwarranted” and “out of the proper order.”
“How do we move forward? This is damaging,” Glover said.
In an interview Wednesday, he accused others on the council of prior, private meetings about Jones’ tenure.
“Because there is no way those other three councilmembers could have known what actions were going to be taking place,” he said.
Portsmouth Vice Mayor De’Andre Barnes, councilmembers Paul Battle, Dr. Mark Whitaker and Christopher Woodard voted to terminate Jones. Barnes denies any prior meeting.
“I did not know the vote was happening, but I don’t think it’s been any secret about how I felt,” said Barnes.
Jones’ employment did not appear on the council agenda on Tuesday. However, Whitaker made a motion to terminate her contract with the city during the meeting.
That prompted explosive claims by Lucas-Burke from council chambers, including alleging some members seeking payments for votes.
"She has a lot on this council and that’s why they want to get rid of her,” said Lucas-Burke.
When asked if he knew anything about those claims, Glover said it would be looked into.
“All of these things that will come to light will be investigated appropriately,” said Glover.
Glover made accusations of his own. He accused a council member of meeting with Jones last week and warning if she did not resign, she would be voted out.
Glover said Jones was working to hire new police officers, city staff and create job training programs. He claimed Jones improved morale among city staff, and said Jones, along with Portsmouth Police Chief Renado Price, were making strides on crime reduction, but she needed more time.
Barnes, who voted against hiring Jones in 2021, disagreed and said he was not pleased with Jones’ approach to crime in the city.
“Being here a certain amount of time shouldn’t be a reason on why you should fire somebody,” he said. “We judge people based on what they do.”
Glover said the decision damages the city’s credibility in terms of attracting and retaining new people and businesses.
Jones’ termination is effective immediately. The city council named Deputy City Manager Mimi Terry the interim city manager.