Some Norfolk City Council members say new city manager was hired too fast

Some Norfolk City Council members say new city manager was hired too fast

NORFOLK, Va. — Some members of Norfolk City Council are questioning the hiring processes after Dr. Chip Filer resigned as Norfolk city manager and the same role was given to Deputy City Manager Pat Roberts on Tuesday.

Some said there was a lack of transparency.

However, Norfolk’s mayor said there was plenty of discussion about the city’s future.

Councilmember Andria McClellan said it’s as though the council moved too fast to fill the role.

“I am concerned after having just come through much of the citizen’s uproar about how we hired the Norfolk Police chief without having enough transparency and here we are right back at it and I’m concerned that this has become a habit and we’ve got to get past this,” said McClellan.

McClellan added the part of a search process would’ve allowed the city to discuss the type of leadership and focus needed for the city.

In a statement, McClellan said that the council hasn’t undertaken any strategic planning since she was elected in 2016 despite her request.

“It is difficult to enumerate our priorities to the new city manager, the staff, or our residents, which has resulted in frustration and a lack of trust, I fear,” she said in the statement. “I was hopeful that Dr. Filer’s resignation would generate the space to discuss our priorities and vision for the city. That did not happen.”

According to Mayor Kenny Alexander, council members are notified in advance of personal appropriation ahead of a vote. In the 2024 fiscal year compensation plan, the severance of former city manager Chip Filer is.

In addition, Mayor Alexander said that the council will always discuss new hires among themselves. In fact, the mayor says it was brought up in a closed session on June 7, the day the council made the Macarthur Mall purchase.

Mayor Alexander also said Filer will meet with council members weekly since the council only meets 24 times a year. When we notified him that some council members felt there was a lack of transparency, he says he didn’t understand how there could be. Another council member who did not wish to be named also disagreed.

Going forward, both sides say Pat Roberts is right for the role, and they all want to ensure his success so the city will also be successful.

“Pat comes with a wealth of experience having been city manager in Suffolk having been deputy city manager in Norfolk,” Mayor Alexander said. “Pat knows his way around municipal government and has over 20 plus years of municipal government experience and we look forward to working with him.”

Councilwoman McClellan added that all of the council members are standing in support of Pat Roberts,

“We need to support him and allow him to do his job and recognize that there are eight of us who support him, not one, not two, but eight,” she said. “I want to make that very clear, as well,” said McClellan.

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